Preeminent violinist Regina Carter put on a fascinatingly beautiful performance tonight as she and her band kicked off the opening performance of the 2011 Bellevue Jazz Festival at the Theatre at Meydenbauer Cente. If the rest of the Festival is half as good as Regina was tonight it will be a festival full of wonderful performances that I will not want to miss. Click on the above link to get to the schedule for the rest of the festival.

Regina performed music from her latest recording Reverse Thread. In 2006 Carter was awarded a MacArthur Fellows Program grant which armed her with the funds and the freedom to follow her muse and create the arrangements for Reverse Thread.

Carter made the decision to record this album primarily influenced by African folk tunes. To achieve the uplifting and stirring result, she added an accordion and kora, the West African harp traditionally played by village storytellers, to her longstanding rhythm section. Kora virtuoso Yacouba Sissoko was brought on board to help recreate the spirit of passing stories from generation to generation. The result is a beautiful compliment to Carter’s sumptuously seductive violin.

Regina Carter also turned to the World Music Institute in New York City, in which she found a diverse and inspirational resource for material. She looked not just to the music, but also the accompanying sounds and nuances of everyday life from anthropological and sociological perspectives.

With Reverse Thread, Regina Carter takes a giant step forward by making a meaningful musical contribution on her own terms. Regina Carter, Violin; Yacouba Sissoko, Kora; Will Holshouser, Accordion; Chris Lightcap, Bass; Alvester Garnett, Drums and Percussion

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Billy Bang – 1948-2011

April 14th, 2011

Billy Bang, a violinist whose gritty, expressive and spirited playing earned admiration in contemporary jazz circles, died on Monday at his home in Harlem. He was 63. The cause was complications of lung cancer, said Jean-Pierre Leduc, his friend and agent.

Billy Bang in performance at the 2007 Earshot Jazz Festival

Photos of Billy are from his performance at the 2008 Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle October, 2008.

Prominent as a bandleader and a sideman throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Mr. Bang achieved his most substantial success with the 2001 album “Vietnam: The Aftermath,” which featured music inspired by his time serving in the Army during the Vietnam War, played with peers who had also served. The album — and a 2005 sequel, “Vietnam: Reflections,” which included Vietnamese musicians — in turn inspired “Redemption Song,” a 2008 documentary film about him.

Continue reading at The New York Times.

Martin Hayes

October 2nd, 2008

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill perform in Seattle on April 12, 2007. They are so fine and clear and Martin is so focused it is amazing to watch and hear them play. Wow!

Photograph by Seattle Editorial Photographer and portrait photographer Daniel Sheehan. Daniel specializes in portraits and photojournalism for publications and corporations. At night he shoots jazz musicians on assignment for Earshot Jazz. Please respect his work and ask for permission to use any pictures.