Regina Carter has been widely hailed as the finest violinist in jazz. But that only tells part of the story for this Detroit native, whose past collaborators range from Dolly Parton, Aretha Franklin and Joe Jackson to Cuban vocal legend Omara Portuondo, the Soldier String Quartet and England’s City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Jazz, classical, blues, rock, country, folk, gospel, African music and more — Carter shines in any style she performs. Credit for this goes to her dazzling instrumental command, deeply expressive playing and unfaltering ingenuity.
“Regina’s tone on her instrument and heart-felt improvisations in all styles of music have had a huge impact on me, and — surely — on her many fans worldwide,” said top San Diego flutist Holly Hofmann, who became close friends with Carter when they were members of bass legend Ray Brown’s band 15 years ago.
Hofmann’s husband, nationally acclaimed pianist Mike Wofford, is equally effusive.
“Regina is simply today’s most important exponent of jazz violin and its history, beginning with seminal figures such as Eddie South and Stuff Smith,” said Wofford, who arranged a song on Carter’s latest album. “She has the feel and creativity of the masters and brings those qualities into today’s current jazz world as well.”
Indeed, Carter sounds wonderfully fresh and authentic whether playing one of her own compositions, a gem by Duke Ellington or a classic by Maurice Ravel that she has transposed from piano to violin.
A 2006 MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” recipient, she is just as compelling when reinventing a favorite by Hank Williams, Jimi Hendrix or Malian blues guitar and vocal star Boubacar Traoré.
“It’s all equal to me,” said Carter, 54, who will perform a La Jolla Music Society SummerFest concert here with her quartet Saturday at UC San Diego’s Conrad Prebys Concert Hall.
“Because I was a…