Regina Carter: Simply Ella

A Part of The 2018 DC Jazzfest

Regina Carter: Simply Ella

Elijah Jamal Balbed

Saturday Jun 09

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$29.75/ $47.75/ $67.75

This event is all ages

For any wheelchair or ADA needs, please contact the Box Office in advance of the performance at (202)-769-0122.

Please note that $3.00 from every ticket will be contributed to the DC Jazz Festival Educational Fund

Regina Carter
Regina Carter
A hundred years after her birth, the ever-eloquent Ella Fitzgerald continues to teach us lessons. Regina Carter has chosen this moment to celebrate the First Lady of Song's infectious and inclusive artistry with unabashed joy. "Accentuate the Positive, I thought was the perfect title considering the mood of the country and the world right now," Ms. Carter says. "We need some positive vibes."

On Ella: Accentuate the Positive, out April 21 from OKeh/Sony Music Masterworks, the virtuoso violinist reveals the many faces of Fitzgerald that have influenced Carter's own remarkable path in music. Apart from the title track of Accentuate the Positive, Carter resists the allure of the songstress' most recognizable hits. Carter has mined tunes from deep within Ella's bountiful catalogue, and brought them to the surface with a distinct freshness. The reward is rich for the listener.

"One of the many things that I adore about Ella is that she just loved music and didn't box herself in," Carter explains. "She recorded everything, not just the American Songbook -- doo-wop, Stevie Wonder and Beatles songs, even some country western music. The fact that she experimented with so many different styles made me feel that, with this record, I would pay respect to her by taking the music and doing something else with it. I feel that she would smile in agreement."

To realize her vision of the album, which transforms the songs through a lens of classic 1950s-'60s soul and blues, Carter calls on an impressive roster of musicians and arrangers. The violinist is accompanied by her longtime rhythm section of bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer Alvester Garnett, and is joined by pianist Xavier Davis and guitarist Marvin Sewell. Both Lightcap and Sewell serve double-duty as arrangers.

This talented group is supplemented by in-demand bassist Ben Williams, producer and hitmaker Ray Angry, renowned vocalist Charenee Wade and pianist Mike Wofford, Fitzgerald's own former accompanist and musical director. Two tracks feature vocals by Carter's fellow Detroiters, actress and singer Miche Braden; and longtime friend and vocalist extraordinaire Carla Cook, who first introduced Carter to jazz violin while the two were classmates at Cass Technical School.

"When people arrange tunes, their voices become part of the recording as well," Carter says. "I wanted to have many voices and many stylistic approaches on this record."

Adoration of Ella Fitzgerald is a theme that is woven throughout the violinist's career. Many songs previously have found their way onto Carter's recordings. For instance, "Oh, Lady Be Good," shows up on 1999's Rhythms of the Heart while "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" appears on the 2006 release, I'll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey, the moving tribute to Carter's late mother. Central to Carter's choice of songs for the album was the ability to spark a connection between the audience and the material, similar to the connection she felt upon hearing Ella for the first time. On the heels of Braden's spirited, gospel-tinged performance on the opening "Ac-cen-tchu-ate the Positive" comes Williams airily funky arrangement of "Crying in the Chapel." Best known as a hit for '50s R&B group, The Orioles, and recorded by everyone from Elvis Presley to Bob Marley, the song was the B-side to Ella's 1953 single "When the Hands of the Clock Pray at Midnight." Lightcap's bluesy take on "I'll Never Be Free" follows, while Davis' sultry Rhodes sets the tone for the slinky groove of Sewell's arrangement of "All My Life."

Wofford's setting of the standard "Dedicated To You" pares the band down to a violin/piano/bass trio, allowing Carter's touching lyricism to shine. Angry gives "Reach for Tomorrow" a shimmering ballad treatment, while Wade's gutsy R&B take on "Undecided" shines the spotlight on Cook's powerhouse, no-nonsense vocal. Carter pairs off with Sewell for an intimate duo rendition of "Judy," the song that jump-started Fitzgerald's career on the stage of the Apollo Theater. Finally, Sewell's gutbucket slide guitar fuels the rootsy version of "I'll Chase the Blues Away" to bring the album to a close.

A student of the violin from age four, Detroit native Carter first focused on listening to classical music. But a vast wealth of influences crept into her ears via her music-loving family. Her older brothers brought home Motown and other soul records, an influence certainly felt on Accentuate the Positive. From her parents' record collection she would pull titles at random -- one day jazz albums, the next, movie soundtracks. It was through that treasure trove that she first heard Ella and instantly was hooked.

"Something about her voice made me feel like I had a personal connection," Carter recalls. "When she sang, I felt really warm and safe, almost a maternal connection. It just felt like love." For Carter, the enchantment continued into adulthood. She grew to realize how much technique and virtuosity were involved in producing a sound so remarkably warm and inviting. "As an adult, I realized what an instrument she (Ella) had," Carter continues. "She had an incredible voice and I gained a lot of respect for her along with the love I had always felt. For years, I would get up and put on an Ella track first thing in the morning. That was the way I needed to start off my day."

Accentuate the Positive is the end result of Carter's daily communion with and lifelong devotion to the music of Ella Fitzgerald. In her heartfelt and deeply personal interpretations of these songs we can hear the same degree of warmth, feeling and elegance that imbued the legendary singer's work as filtered through Carter's singular voice. And that's nothing but positive.

"Ms. Carter is widely considered the finest jazz violinist of her generation, a hard-charging soloist whose precisely focused tone and graceful way with a ballad hint at her long years of classical training." - The New York Times
Elijah Jamal Balbed
Elijah Jamal Balbed
Saxophonist, composer, educator, and activist Elijah Jamal Balbed is a native of Washington, DC, currently splitting his time between DC and New York. An alumnus of Howard University's legendary Jazz program, Elijah has since been named Artist of the Year (2016), Best Tenor Saxophonist (2013) and Best New Jazz Musician (2010) by the Washington City Paper, and has participated in residencies at the Kennedy Center (Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead), Strathmore, Bohemian Caverns, and a month-long stint at the Jazz at Lincoln Center in Doha, Qatar. In addition to the Middle East, music has taken Elijah all over the world including places like Japan, Jamaica, South America, London, and many states in the US. Over the last decade, he has established himself as a versatile saxophonist, having performed with artists ranging from Nicholas Payton, Winard Harper, and Cyrus Chestnut, all the way to Lalah Hathaway, Eric Benet, The Blackbyrds, and Dr. John. Elijah is best known for having worked regularly with the late, great, Godfather of Go-Go music, Chuck Brown for the last year of his life.

In 2012, Elijah released his debut album "Checking In", the title track awarding him a semi-finalist slot in the International Songwriting Competition (2012). On International Jazz Day of 2015, Elijah released his second album - an homage to the DC jazz scene and community, this one entitled "Lessons From the Streets". Both albums were named among the best jazz albums their respective years by Capital Bop, the leading jazz publication in DC.

In addition to jazz, Elijah is equally dedicated to the preservation of Go-Go music - Washington, DC's indigenous style of music. Through working with Mr. Chuck Brown, Elijah developed a passion and love for Go-Go and has a band dedicated to combining elements Jazz and Go-Go musics called The JoGo Project. The band has been highly acclaimed in DC and the surrounding areas, having performed at venues such as Strathmore, Kennedy Center, Mount St Mary's University, and festivals such as the Funk Parade, H Street Festival, and Art All Night, to name a few. Collaborations have included Frank Sirius, Christie Dashiell, Warren Wolf, Greg Boyer, R&B artist Cecily, tap dancer Joseph Webb, and rapper Javier Starks.

Elijah is a voting member of the DC Chapter of the Recording Academy, as well as a member of Local 161-710, the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Federation of Musicians.
Venue Information:
The Hamilton
600 14th St NW
Washington, DC, 20005
http://www.thehamiltondc.com