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Interview:
Regina Carter with the DSO, 3 Things To Know
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Regina Carter may be known primarily as a jazz musician, but she's certainly aware, and proud, of her classical roots.

The Detroit-born violinist -- whose cousin is saxophonist James Carter -- studied at Oakland University and at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, played in Detroit Symphony Orchestra's youth program and took master classes with virtuosos such as Itzhak Perlman and Yehudi Menuhin. In 2001 she played a concert with an 18th century violin owned by Niccolo Paganini.

She's also played Duke Ellington, both on her own, with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and as part of Joe Jackson's "The Duke" project in 2012.

Carter, 50 and now a resident of New Jersey, will be honored this weekend as part of the DSO's 39th annual Classical Roots Celebration, along with trumpeter and DSO Jazz Creative Chair Terence Blanchard, who will be premiering his new piece "Detroit 67."

Carter's classical roots stretch back to her childhood, when she was learning to play piano and then violin. "I used to go to the Detroit Community Music School for lessons and we would get tickets for the symphony -- at Ford Auditorium back then," Carter recalls by phone from New York. "I remember sitting in the balcony, looking at the stage and saying to myself, 'One day I want to be a soloist on that stage with the orchestra.'"

At that point, too, Carter was only thinking about classical music. "Oh yeah -- I thought I was going to be doing European classical music," she says. "That was my only reference point. Those were the only live concerts I was going to at the time. Once I discovered jazz in high school, that whole picture changed. But, y'know, I don't like to box music or put it into categories or whatever. It's just music, so I approach everything the same."

Carter will release a new album, "Ella: Accentuate The Positive," a set of Ella Fitzgerald songs, in April. "I call it my B-sides record; They're not the typical tunes someone will do when they want to do something by Ella," Carter explains. "I did some of the tunes people know, like 'All My LIfe' and 'Undecided.' But there's tunes like 'Crying In The Chapel' that people don't remember, or 'I'll Never Be Free,' 'Imagine My Frustration.' I asked the arrangers to do them in more of a 50s/'60s Detroit soul vibe, paying tribute to my home town roots as well, growing up in Motown. It was a really fun, fulfilling project.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra 39th annual Classical Roots Celebration, honoring Terence Blanchard and Regina Carter.

10:45 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3.

Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit.

Tickets are $15-$500.

Call 313-576-411 or visit dso.org.

Note: The evening show will be webcast live at dso.org/live.

Web Site: www.dso.org

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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