Regina Carter – Paganini: After A Dream

Regina CarterRegina Carter
Paganini: After A Dream
(Verve – 2003)
by Paula Edelstein

Paganini: After a Dream is a landmark album from the acclaimed violinist Regina Carter. This recording-which features Carter and her band of Werner “Vana” Gierig, piano, Chris Lightcap, bass, Alvester Garnett, drums, and Mayra Casales, percussion-is the culmination of a fairy tale: a once-in-a lifetime encounter between a jazz musician from Detroit and the most famous violin in classical music, Paganini’s Guarneri.

Perhaps the most legendary classical violinist in history, Nicol√≤ Paganini, born in Genoa, Italy in 1782, had a technique so dazzling he was rumored to have sold his soul to the devil. When he died in 1840 he left his famous Guarneri violin, called “Il Cannone” or “The Cannon,” to his beloved City of Genoa. Now it is kept in impeccable condition by the City of Genoa, and great violinists from around the globe make the pilgrimage there to play and record on it, but only under the watchful eyes of the conservators and two armed guards.

In December 2001, Regina Carter, who had trained as a classical violinist but switched to jazz late in her high-school years, received an extraordinary invitation from the City of Genoa to perform on Paganini’s violin. No jazz musician had ever laid hand on the violin, nor had any African-American. The idea of jazz being played on the precious instrument unleashed heated controversy in Genoa – until Carter held a press conference and charmed the Italian press by her gracious appreciation for the honor of playing the violin – and by speaking Italian! The press rallied around her, the concert sold out, and Carter received a standing ovation and became a heroine in Genoa.

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