Reverse Thread (E1)

Regina Carter

Released May 18, 2010

JazzTimes Top 10 Albums of 2010




One of the most beloved artists of her generation, preeminent violinist Regina Carter has achieved another landmark in a creative history that has yielded both artistic and commercial triumphs. Her newest release, Reverse Thread, starts with exquisite traditional African music and infuses it with contemporary jazz and Afropop energy. The results are uplifting, stirring, and joyful. Regina’s Reverse Thread Band adds virtuoso Yacouba Sissoko on kora – the West African harp traditionally played by village storytellers–to her longstanding rhythm section. Sissoko’s beautiful instrumental voicings were brought into the mix to help recreate the spirit of passing stories from generation to generation. The collaboration–unlike anything previously heard–is a haunting and beautiful compliment to Regina’s sumptuously seductive violin. Through her best-selling, Grammy-nominated albums, incessant touring and various guest appearances and collaborations, Regina has developed into a distinctly diverse musical personality. She has repeatedly toured throughout the world, and was the first jazz artist and African American to play Niccolo Paganini’s famed Guarneri “Cannon” violin. She has been featured with several symphony orchestras and performed with pop artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Billy Joel, and Mary J. Blige. With Reverse Thread, Regina takes another giant step forward. In an era of cookie cutter jazz albums that do little to excite the imagination of music lovers, it’s a brilliant, colorful, and lively exploration whose seductive charms are infallible.

Track Listing:

1. Hiwumbe Awumba (Traditional) 4:50

2. Full Time (Mamadou Ba) 5:59

3. N’Teri (Habib Koité) 5:52

4. Artistiya (Mariam Doumbia) 3:56

5. Un Aguinaldo Pa Regina (Papo Vazquez) 5:27

6. Kothbiro (Intro) 0:32

7. Kothbiro (James Achieng / Ayub Ogada) 6:03

8. Zerapiky (Traditional) 3:57

9. Day Dreaming on the Niger (Regina Carter / Reginald Washington) 6:15

10. Juru Nani/God Be with You (Bassekou Kouyate / Traditional) 4:09

11. Kanou (Boubacar Traoré) 5:52

12. Mwana Talitambula (Traditional) 4:32


Regina Carter: violin

Yacouba Sissoko: Kora (2, 3, 6, 7, 11)

Adam Rogers: guitar (1, 5, 8)

Will Holshouser: accordion (1, 7, 8, 10-12)

Gary Versace: accordion; (2-5, 9)

Chris Lightcap: bass;(1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10-12)

Mamadou Ba: bass (2, 3, 9)

Alvester Garnett: drums, percussion

Joe Ferla: hand claps (8)

Producer: Regina Carter

Co-producer: John Blake

Executive Producer: Darryl Pitt

Engineer: Joe Ferla

Mixed by Joe Ferla

Mastered by Greg Calbi

Art Direction: Tom Takigayama


What does the award-winning, classically trained, jazz violinist Regina Carter do, after playing Niccolo Paganini’s famous Guarneri “Cannon” violin in Paganini: After a Dream (Verve Music Group, 2003), or reinterpreting songs from the 1920s-1940s in I’ll Be Seeing You ( Verve Music Group, 2006)? She directs her interests and passion towards African folk music in Reverse Thread, a significant work in her already diverse discography. 
A 2006 MacArthur Fellow, Carter took full advantage of the very generous funding to exhaustively research rich traditional music, that encompasses the reach of the African Diaspora. “Hiwumbe Awumba” is based on field recordings from Ugandan Jews, while “Un Aguinaldo Pa Regina” blends African music with harmonies originating in India and Puerto Rico, fresh interpretations of music from Mali or Madagascar, and the timeless sounds of ancestral instruments. 
From the hinterlands in Africa, Europe, and the Americas, this is modern folk music that is global, traditional, and full of soul. It’s a communion of sounds, articulated by Carter’s resonating violin, along with a fine ensemble of noted jazz artists and brilliant additions including the old-world timbre of accordionists Will Holshouser and Gary Versace, and Kora (21-string West African harp) master, Yacouba Sissoko. 

What might sound like a jig, a polka, or Cajun rug cutting music, might actually come from an African folktale through the infectious rhythm of “Kanou.” The soothing hypnotism of “N’Teri” is uplifting, as the melody is layered by contrasting instrument textures. The variety is abundant. Whereas “the elongated melody of “Kothbiro” moves gently, “Full Time” is Afro-pop dance music, with Carter bowing effervescently, propelled by Mamadou Ba’s funky bass and Alvester Garnett’s (Carter’s husband) tight drum work. The global demarcation lines are blurred throughout, whether in “Un Aguinaldo Pa Regina” or the festivities in “Zerapiki,” originally an accordion-based song brought from Madagascar. 
A sense of spirituality is also present. The stirring rendition of the church hymn “Juru Nani / God Be With You” contains multiple styles and boundaries, exchanging ideas from Africa to America, while the haunting accordion/violin harmonies in “Mwana Talitambula” are based on a field recording of a woman singing in eastern Uganda. 
There’s a trove of jewels waiting to be mined in Reverse Thread. Thankfully, Carter’s unquenchable thirst for new music has allowed her to produce this important recording.

Mark F. Turner (All About Jazz)