Performing Arts | Arts | Music
Regina Carter, Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan (DOUBLE BILL)
1300 SE Stark St.
Feb. 18, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Regina Carter: Ella Accentuate The Positive
A hundred years after her birth, the ever-eloquent Ella Fitzgerald continues to teach us lessons. Regina Carter has chosen this moment to celebrate the First Lady of Song’s infectious and inclusive artistry with unabashed joy. “Accentuate the Positive, I thought was the perfect title considering the mood of the country and the world right now,” Ms. Carter says. “We need some positive vibes.”
A student of the violin from age four, Detroit native Carter first focused on listening to classical music. But a vast wealth of influences crept into her ears via her music-loving family. Her older brothers brought home Motown and other soul records, an influence certainly felt on Accentuate the Positive. From her parents’ record collection she would pull titles at random –one-dayy jazz albums, the next, movie soundtracks. It was through that treasure trove that she first heard Ella and instantly was hooked.
“Something about her voice made me feel like I had a personal connection,” Carter recalls. “When she sang, I felt really warm and safe, almost a maternal connection. It just felt like love.” For Carter, the enchantment continued into adulthood. She grew to realize how much technique and virtuosity were involved in producing a sound so remarkably warm and inviting. “As an adult, I realized what an instrument she (Ella) had,” Carter continues. “She had an incredible voice and I gained a lot of respect for her along with the love I had always felt. For years, I would get up and put on an Ella track first thing in the morning. That was the way I needed to start off my day.”
Accentuate the Positive is the end result of Carter’s daily communion with and lifelong devotion to the music of Ella Fitzgerald. In her heartfelt and deeply personal interpretations of these songs we can hear the same degree of warmth, feeling and elegance that imbued the legendary singer’s work as filtered through Carter’s singular voice. And that’s nothing but positive.
Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan
Small Town presents guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan in a program of duets, the poetic chemistry of their playing captured live at New York’s hallowed Village Vanguard. Frisell made his debut as a leader for ECM in 1983 with the similarly intimate In Line, establishing one of the most distinctive sounds of any modern guitarist. His rich history with the label includes multiple recordings with Paul Motian and Small Town begins with a tribute to Motian in the form of a searching, 11-minute interpretation of the late drummer’s composition “It Should’ve Happened a Long Time Ago,” the duo’s counterpoint yielding a hushed power. Morgan, who also played with Motian, has appeared on ECM as bassist of choice for Tomasz Stanko, Jakob Bro, David Virelles, Giovanni Guidi and Masabumi Kikuchi.
Frisell first met the California-born Morgan through Joey Baron in the 1990s, when the bassist was “very impressive, even though he was still a kid, basically,” recalls the Grammy-winning guitarist. “Later, we played together at a session led by drummer Kenny Wollesen. In the midst of all this action there, a kind of cacophony, I heard this bass note that just felt so present and right – even though Thomas was 40 or 50 feet away from me in a big studio. It struck me. And we played together again at Paul Motian’s last session, so it’s special that we both have this connection to Paul and his music. I asked Thomas to sit in with some of my groups, and we developed this rapport. Thomas has this way of almost time-traveling, as if he sees ahead of the music and sorts it all out before he plays a note. He never plays anything that isn’t a response to what I play, anticipating me in the moment. That sort of support makes me feel weightless, like I can really take off.
“Thomas and I are also similar in that we’re both quiet personalities,” Frisell continues. “Whenever I play guitar, that’s my true voice. It’s not so dissimilar with Thomas, I think. Playing the bass is his natural way of expressing himself. And I’m going to steal a phrase from the saxophonist Charles Lloyd, who once said to me before a gig, ‘I’m really looking forward to singing with you.’ I think that way about playing with Thomas, too. He really plays the song, whether it’s a Fats Domino tune or something abstract – the energy comes from the same place.”