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The Ella Effect

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Wednesday May 03, 2017

From The Chicago Tribune

Violinist Regina Carter explores the beauty of Ella
By: Howard Reich

Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday — on April 25 — has come and gone, but the celebration continues, as well it should.

The next major tribute comes in an unexpected form, not from a jazz singer but from the multifaceted violinist Regina Carter.

Carter’s new recording, “Ella: Accentuate the Positive,” pays homage to the supreme vocalist, who — at first glance — might not seem to have been an obvious influence on the world’s pre-eminent jazz violinist. Fitzgerald’s art, after all, rests partly on the way she shaped words and the unprecedented technical feats she could achieve with her singular voice.

But Carter fell under Fitzgerald’s spell in childhood and never escaped it (nor wanted to), Fitzgerald’s sound — gauzy, luscious and sublimely expressive — influencing the violinist’s art ever after.

Maybe that shouldn’t come as such a surprise, considering that the violin surely comes closer to evoking the character of the human voice than any other instrument. Carter instinctively made that connection before she was fully aware of it.

“When I was a kid, we had a lot of different music going on in our house — some Nat King Cole, some Ella, some movie soundtracks,” remembers Carter, who plays her Fitzgerald repertoire Friday night in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center (on a double bill with the SFJAZZ Collective).

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