The virtuoso violinist Regina Carter grew up in Detroit, her mom was an ardent Ella Fitzgerald fan and played her records throughout Regina’s childhood and teenage years. The influence of Ella on Ms. Carter is still with her, in fact, when learning a new standard or song, she always goes back to the Ella Fitzgerald version of the tune to perfect her playing of it. Over her illustrious career Regina has recorded several songs associated with Fitzgerald including two she placed on the 2006 album I'll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey dedicated to her Mom after she passed away. Regina began her career as a member of the all-female group, Straight Ahead. After her stint, Regina left the ensemble and has never looked back! Carter is classically trained which enabled her to be one of a very few and elite group of violinists who have played “The Cannon”, so called because of its huge, sonorous sound — which was the beloved instrument of violinist and composer Niccolo Paganini. What is even more impressive is that she is the only violinist to have played the heavily guarded instrument on 2 separate occasions. KUVO is proud to have had Regina and her group play live in our Phyllis A. Greer Performance Studio back in 2007.
For her new recording, Ella: Accentuate the Positive which honors Ella Fitzgerald’s centennial, Carter took a different avenue to Ella’s music. Instead of coming out swingin’ duplicating Ella’s approach to singing, she took mostly lesser known songs from Ella’s playlist and reworked them, mostly in a medium tempo with a heavy dose of the blues added to the mix. Xavier Davis caresses the keyboards of the Fender Rhodes, organ and piano while guitarist Marvin Sewell also triples up on acoustic, electric and slide guitars. Two of the nine tracks on her first Sony-OKeh Records release are vocals, Miche Braden sings the title track and the veteran Carla Cook chimes in on Undecided. The other musicians for this session are Chris Lightcap playing upright and electric bass while Alvester Garnett handles the drums-conga-tambourine. Regina Carter shines throughout this recording and I applaud her decision to re-interpret rather than to replicate the music of Ella Jane Fitzgerald. After you listen to this CD, chances are that you’ll want to eliminate the negative and latch on the affirmative.