Regina Carter

Paganini: After a Dream

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It would be a definite exaggeration to say that jazz and classical have become joined at the hip the way that rap and urban contemporary have become joined at the hip, but it is safe to say that the jazz and classical worlds are crossing paths a lot these days. Many of today's jazz musicians are classically trained, and concert halls that are classical-friendly are often jazz-friendly (especially in Europe). Paganini: After a Dream is among the many instrumental projects that finds a jazz artist acknowledging the Euro-classical tradition, which isn't to say this is a classical album per se. Essentially, Paganini: After a Dream is post-bop, although it's post-bop with a strong Euro-classical influence and, at times, some Latin influences as well (including Argentinean tango, Brazilian samba, and the Cuban bolero tradition). This CD wasn't designed with musical purists in mind -- Paganini: After a Dream isn't for jazz purists any more than it is for classical purists or Latin purists. But the more broad-minded listeners will appreciate the fact that violinist Regina Carter plays quite lyrically throughout the album whether she is turning her attention to Maurice Ravel's "Pavane Pour une Infante Défunte" and Claude Debussy's "Rêverie" or Luiz Bonfá's "Manha de Carnaval" and Argentinean tango innovator Astor Piazzolla's "Oblivion." The people who join Carter on this disc include, among others, conductor Ettore Stratta (who serves as co-producer) and cellist Borislav Strulev -- and thankfully, Carter manages to provide an album that is extremely lush without being elevator muzak. Because the material is heavily arranged, she doesn't have as much room to improvise. But the violinist does have enough solo space to get her points across, and even though Paganini: After a Dream isn't her most essential release, it is a tasteful, pleasing addition to Carter's catalog.

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