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Regina Carter comes back home with special friend in tow
Regina Carter doesn't often get to perform with Kenny Barron, the pianist she calls her "mentor" as well as a close friend with whom she recorded an album, "Freefall," in 2001.
So when the pair comes together to play a pair of shows this weekend -- including one on Friday, Nov. 20, at Detroit's Orchestra Hall -- it will truly be special according to Carter.
"With some people, you're just on another level. You're just in sync with one another for whatever reason, and it's not something you can plan or work on," the Detroit-born jazz violinist, an Oakland University graduate, says by phone from her current home in New Jersey. She first met Barron during the 90s at the Telluride Jazz Festival and he subsequently hired her to play some shows with his band. But it took them years for their schedules to finally sync to make the "Freefall" album.
"Y'know, there's some people who you can play with over a period of time and it can develop, but with Kenny and I, right off the bat, it felt like we could almost finish each other's musical sentences. We don't get to perform together that much, but whenever we do it feels like we did it just yesterday."
Yesterday, or at least yesteryear, is certainly apprpros to Carter these days. This year marks the 20th anniversary of her debut album, which came shortly after her departure from the pioneering all-female Detroit jazz group Straight Ahead. Since then she's also worked with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel, Mary J. Blige, Dolly Parton, Lauryn Hill, Max Roach and Oliver Lake, and Carter has recorded with Joe Jackson on each of his last two ablums and toured with him as well.
"On one hand, it doesn't feel that long," says Carter, 49, who will begin working on an album of Ella Fitzgerald songs next year as the follow-up to 2014's critically lauded "Southern Comfort." "But we played a club in Minneapolis the other day, and in the hallway they had pictures of the artists who have played there, including one of myself from probably 20 years ago.
"I was kinda shocked because I looked at it and said, 'That was me.' You still feel the same and I don't feel like time has moved on, but then you see a photograph and yeah, it has. It's pretty amazing. That time has just flown by."
But it's left her in a good place, Carter adds.
"I think 20 years ago I was ready to take the world by storm," she recalls with a laugh. "Now I'm more experienced. I've lived a little. When I step on stage now it's with a very different purpose. I think I have a deeper understanding of the power of music and what I want to do wtih it. There's more maturity to everything -- why I'm on stage, my approach to the music.
"That's an OK place to be in, I think."
Regina Carter and Kenny Barron
8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20.
Tickets are $19-$99.
Call 313-576-5111 or visit dso.org.
Note: Carter and Barron will be interviewed by the Kresge Foundation`s W. Kim Heron before the concert, at 7 p.m.
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