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Regina Carter: Real Southern Comfort

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When most people think of the violin, they think of a solo instrument in a concerto, or a lead in a small ensemble, or a whole section of ten or twenty violinists playing in perfect synchronicity in an orchestral setting. Other styles that often include violin—or fiddle, as it’s more likely to be called—are zydeco, country and western, folk, and blue grass.

Violin isn’t common in jazz, but there is certainly a long history of great jazz violinists, including Stéphane Grappelli, Jean-Luc Ponty, Mark Feldman, and Christian Howes. Winnipeg is about to welcome one of the most exciting and gifted jazz violinists of our time, Regina Carter. On April 18, she and her band will warm up the stage at the Winnipeg Art Gallery as part of the Asper Jazz Performances series, with two concerts featuring music from her exciting new album, Southern Comfort.

Regina grew up in Detroit immersed in classical, jazz and Motown, all of which are a big part of her playing today. But in the true spirit of the great artist she is, she’s pushed herself to explore other musical styles, including world, folk, African and Afro-Cuban. Regina’s past three albums are a perfect example of the deliberate progression through different styles. I’ll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey is an album that features her mother’s favorite early jazz standards. Reverse Thread is an album where she explores her connection to the African diaspora. In Southern Comfort, Regina takes the listener on a musical exploration of Cajun fiddle music, early gospel, and the work songs her grandfather would have known as a coalminer in Alabama.

Regina has put together a terrific band. Joining her on stage are Alvester Garnett on drums, Chris Lightcap on bass, Marvin Sewell on guitar, and William Holshouser on accordion. Regina’s soulful violin playing, the slide guitar timbres, and the distinct sound of the accordion really capture the spirit that is unique to zydeco, Cajun and southern US folk music. This is a music for the people—it gets into your bones. It will make you happy, it will make you sad, and it will surely make you want to dance!

I’ve had the pleasure of playing with Regina Carter on numerous occasions and can truly say she is a musician whose passion for music is infectious. The visceral emotion in her playing never fails to captivate her audiences. She is showing the world that the violin is an instrument of great feeling and emotion, and the sky’s the limit with its capabilities. We are in for a treat!


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