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Regina Carter: Ella: Accentuate the Positive (OKeh)

Violinist takes a different path in saluting Ella Fitzgerald

Regina Carter: "Ella: Accentuate the Positive"
Regina Carter: “Ella: Accentuate the Positive”

From the rolling, Appalachia-tinged fanfare that opens “Accentuate the Positive,” it’s apparent that we’re not in standard Ella-tribute territory. 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. Welcome, then, to a corner of the Ella Fitzgerald world at some remove from the well-trod path.

In the liners, Carter mentions how Fitzgerald could reach her at her core, so it’s fitting that this is music directed straight to the gut. The arrangements—as on “Crying in the Chapel”—steer toward the subtly artful, straddling the line between the sonic accouterments of midcentury jazz, with its lived-in warmth, and something more sylvan. Drummer Alvester Garnett provides supple little skip beats that sashay the music on its way, opening space for Carter’s violin to conjure associations with the luminous figure while never resorting to mimicry.

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