Thursday, May 17, 2012

Regina Carter @ Fairgrounds 5/3/12

This was my absolute favorite.  Regina is so impressive.  I remember when she and John Zorn were the 2 recipients of an experimental music grant.  I didn't know much about her and never really followed up my curiosity until now.  I see why they give her grants and awards.

This ensemble was phenomenal.  I loved having a kora for many songs.  There was also Will Holtzhouser on accordion.  I was surprised to discover the CD came out in 2010.  I still haven't gotten a hold of it, but soon.
When preeminent violinist Regina Carter made the decision to record an album primarily
of African folk tunes, she created a great challenge for herself: how do you take beautiful
traditional music and infuse it with a contemporary feel while remaining true to its past
— and then, not compromise its beauty? Her newest release, Reverse Thread, due out on
E1 Entertainment on May 18th brilliantly responds to the challenge.
To achieve the uplifting and stirring result, Regina added an accordion and kora—the
West African harp traditionally played by village storytellers—to her longstanding
rhythm section. Kora virtuoso Yacouba Sissoko was brought on board to help recreate the
spirit of passing stories from generation to generation. The result—unlike anything
previously heard—is a haunting and beautiful compliment to Regina’s sumptuously
seductive violin.

Without the support of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation, which “awards
unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals,” Reverse Thread might never have been
realized. As a MacArthur Fellow — a recipient of what is commonly known as the
“genius grant” — Carter was armed with the funds and the freedom to follow her muse.
Regina turned to the World Music Institute in New York City, in which she found a
diverse and inspirational resource for material, including ethnographic field recordings.
Regina looked not just to the music, but also the accompanying sounds and nuances of
everyday life from anthropological and sociological perspectives which informed the
spirit of the new arrangements.

“There is an immense amount of amazing music coming from all around the world, much
of which is barely accessible,” emphasized Regina. “Reverse Thread gave me the
opportunity to explore and celebrate a tiny portion of music that moved me.”
Both "Hiwumbe Awumba" and "Mwana Talitambula" are based on field recordings from
the Ugandan Jews, a community in eastern Uganda who although are not genetically or
historically Jewish, practice the Jewish religion. Setting the inspirational tone for the
album, the first track “Hiwumbe Awumba” originates from a field recording of a group
singing, “God creates and then He destroys.” Although the title is dark, the uplifting
quality and spirit of the voice on the recording inspired Regina, and the final arrangement
is a paean to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Using the field recording of a woman singing “Mwana Talitambula” as a departure point,
Regina’s bass player Chris Lightcap split the melody between the violin and bass with a
hypnotically emotive result.

Reverse Thread also embraces music of the African Diaspora. As but one example, “Un
Aguinaldo” skillfully layers the rhythmic aspects of African music with harmonies
originating in India and Puerto Rico.

Through her albums, incessant touring and various guest appearances and collaborations,
Regina has developed into a distinctly diverse musical personality. She has repeatedly
toured throughout the world, was the first jazz artist and African American to play
Niccolo Paganini’s famed Guarneri “Cannon” violin, has been featured with several
symphony orchestras and performed with artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin, Lauryn
Hill, Billy Joel, Kenny Barron and Mary J. Blige.
With Reverse Thread, Regina takes a giant step forward by making a meaningful musical
contribution on her own terms.

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