Regina Carter, the jazz violinist and onetime MacArthur Fellow, stopped by NPR headquarters recently to perform and discuss material from her new album, Reverse Thread. The record marks a new direction for Carter, who used it as a vehicle for interpretations of African folk songs, both traditional and contemporary.
"For many years, I've wanted to do a 'world music' record, if you will," Carter says. "And my journey, when I started this project, was extremely broad. And then it was narrowed down to certain music from different parts of Africa. So I'm just skimming the surface, but it's our Western and contemporary arrangements on pieces — some very old folk melodies that I found to be very beautiful, and that would work with this instrumentation."
Carter spoke with host Robert Siegel about the new album and her approach to jazz violin. And, with Will Holshouser on accordion and Yacouba Sissoko on kora, she played stripped-down versions of three songs from Reverse Thread.