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Regina Carter
Motor City Moments
Verve CD 314 543 927-2, 2001

Classy classic jazz on the violin

Ben Ohmart, 14 August 2001

While the violin will never replace the sax or piano as lead instrument, whenever it comes into play, there is a subtleness, an elegance, that charms all other sounds in its wake. Especially when the playlist is exemplary.

There are certain tunes here, all instrumentals, that would be hard to imagine without a fiddle in front. Foremost comes to mind "Love Theme From Spartacus" which is a heavy subject, a heavy movie, and not readily associated with jazz. Until now. Imagine stripping off some Ben Hur, putting a sprinkle of sultry, out-of-the-way-restaurant music behind it and that's the point. Romance. Not death. Not even winged and ailing. Steaming and breathing hard.

Next up on the list of don't-change-its has to be the beauteous "Fukai Aijo," penned by guest pianist Barry Harris, who knows how to mystify along the lines of "Stardust" and "Stella By Starlight." Those romantic ghost pictures are flickering all through this piano & violin duet. A quiet moment built entirely for kisses, not coffee.

Perhaps not the most forthright or inventive violin jazz album, but neither does it pale beside any standard, so-called classic jazz album (think Ellington, Coltrane). This takes you back to the day of crisp collars, respect and smiles, when Harlem was the place all the classy white people frequented for a good boost of ragtime and blues.Motor City Moments

Ben may not be aware that Bill Evans, the exemplary jazz pianist, tried to make the case for Alex North's "Love Theme From Spartacus" as a jazz tune on his 1963 Verve album Conversations With Myself. Admittedly, few jazzers have followed his lead. Classical pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet did a beautiful version on his 1997 London album of transcriptions, Conversations With Bill Evans, although it takes the tune even farther away from jazz. I am glad to see Regina Carter taking up the cause: it is a breathtakingly sad and beautiful tune. - Glenn Brooks

performers  Regina Carter, violin; Werner "Vana" Gierig, piano; Daryl Hall, bass; Alvester Garnett, drums; Mayra Casales, percussions
with guests  Marcus Belgrave, trumpet and flugelhorn; James Carter, bass clarinet and tenor sax; Barry Harris, piano; Russell Malone, guitar; Lewis Nash, drums

songs  Don't Git Sassy · Don't Mess With Mr. T · For Someone I Love · Forever February · Higher Ground · Love Theme From Spartacus · Prey Loot · Fukai Aijo · Chattanooga Choo Choo · Up South

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