Paganini: After A Dream
The title of this project is aptly-named. Regina Carter, a Detroit-born, classically-trained jazz violinist, traveled to Genoa, Italy in December, 2001, and performed on Paganini’s legendary Guarneri violin nicknamed “the Canon.” After winning the hearts of the skeptical Italians, with armed gunmen surveying her every move, Carter played flawlessly, and became the first jazz musician and African-American to the play the instrument. The next year, Carter returned to Genoa, recorded on Paginini’s violin and performed a pleasing program of crossover-friendly light classics, South American compositions, a movie tune, and original works. Produced and arranged by Jorge Calandrelli and Ettore Strata, and backed by a combo led by pianist Werner “Vana” Gierig, the selections, while not exactly groundbreaking, successfully show off Carter’s impeccable and soulful playing, and the violin’s rich and reverent tones. An 18-piece orchestra supports Carter on Ravel’s “Pavane pour une infante defunte,” Piazzolla’s “Oblivion,” and Ennio Morrricone’s Cinema Paradiso theme. Borislav Strulev’s cello co-stars on Luiz Bonfa’s “Black Orpheus (Manha de Carnaval)” and Faure’s “Apres un reve.” For Debussy’s “Reverie,” Carter delivers some straight-ahead swing. In sum: She came, she saw, she conquered and, she swung. –Eugene Holley, Jr.