In the realm of jazz violinists, Regina Carter reigns at the pinnacle of the pyramid. Carter, a MacArthur Foundation “genius” Fellowship recipient, makes her sixth appearance on a Penn State stage to honor THE source of her musical inspiration. Carter’s Simply Ella program, performed with her band, features music from the Ella: Accentuate the Positive album released in 2017 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth.
The violinist grew up in a Detroit home in which music was often playing. “To this very day, whenever I hear an Ella recording it grabs me at my core,” Carter says. “I’m entranced by her voice, her melodic improvisations, and the passion and artfulness with which Ella sings a song. She helps me understand a song by providing a window to its essence.”
“Violinist Regina Carter is at the top of her art on this fantastic tribute …,” writes a DownBeat reviewer. “Carter shows she is in full command of her talents from the downbeat of the opening tune, ‘Accentuate the Positive,” a very original take on an old chestnut. … At the heart of this album are tunes so familiar you can see the words floating across the sky as they’re virtually sung with melodic perfection by Carter’s violin.”
The album is a “beguiling tribute” on which Carter “honors Ella Fitzgerald with exceptional warmth and sincerity,” writes a Jazziz critic. “Regina Carter’s violin has a quality suggestive of leading us back to the woods, where an impromptu rustic dance is happening with plenty of attendant good feeling,” adds a JazzTimes writer. “Welcome, then, to a corner of the Ella Fitzgerald world at some remove from the well-trod path.”
Carter’s band includes keyboardist Xavier Davis, bassist Chris Lightcap, guitarist Marvin Sewell, and drummer Alvester Garnett.
In December, Carter was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for her work on Karrin Allyson’s recording of “Some of that Sunshine.”
Artistic Viewpoints will not be offered before this performance.
Patricia Best and Thomas Ray