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Carter at Abyssinian; Incognito blazes

Ron Scott | 4/11/2013, 4:07 p.m.
One woman who's shaking it up is violinist Regina Carter, who, along with her late...
Carter at Abyssinian; Incognito blazes

One woman who's shaking it up is violinist Regina Carter, who, along with her late predecessors Stuff Smith (Andy Kirk's "12 Clouds of Joy"), Noel Pointer and Billy Bang, turned the classical instrument into a hip, improvised jazz vehicle for audiences interested in moving excursions.

On April 14, Carter's quintet will perform at Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church Jazz Vespers monthly concert series in celebration of "Women in Jazz."

Carter's instrumentation isn't a group of traditional jazz instruments. Her quintet features Yacouba Sissoko on kora (West African instrument with 21 strings), Will Holshouser on accordion (an instrument that's rarely seen in jazz), bassist Jesse Murphy and drummer Alvester Garnett.

In December 2001, Carter played a concert in Genoa on Il Cannone Guarnerius, a violin that was made in 1743 and was once owned by Niccol Paganini. The violin was willed to Genoa after Paganini's death in 1840. She was the first jazz musician and African-American to play the instrument.

Upon arriving in New York, Carter expanded her horizons in music by playing with a variety of musicians such as Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel and country queen Dolly Parton. On the jazz side, she joined Max Roach and avant-garde saxophonist/poet Oliver Lake and performed in the String Trio of New York.

"The Abyssinian Baptist Church has a long-standing tradition of supporting jazz and providing some of the finest musicians an opportunity to perform this sacred music in a sacred environment--Harlem," said Ron West, a member of the Abyssinian Vespers Committee.

The historic church is located at 132 Odell Clark Place (West 138th Street). The concert will start at 4 p.m. and run until 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 for seniors and students and $20 for adults.

Incognito has a bold, soulful funk sound with jazz overtones that make folks get up and dance. This was definitely the case during the band's recent performance at New York's B.B. King Blues Club. Those who were forced to stand had the best view directly in front of the stage, and they swayed to the addictive rhythms.

Incognito was swinging too hard to retire. Guitarist Jean Paul "Bluey" Maunick, the founder of the group, said, "We didn't mean to go over, but we are so grateful to you guys for coming out and supporting us; we truly feel the love." Maunick resides in London and the band members are scattered among the four winds, so they let it all out. It was only a two-night gig, but it seemed that Incognito's massive fanbase could support a four-night engagement.

"It's not about playing a tune just to get applause; it's about communicating and knowing that everyone shares a strong feeling of wanting to be together and experience a little utopia," Bluey said.

On Stevie Wonder's "As," the band reconstructed the tune by slowing the pace with Kelli Sae on lead vocals as the band gave full support without overpowering her.

On Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing," Natalie Williams took the lead and dressed up her version of the ballad into an operatic funk number as the band showed their versatility and patience with a smooth vocalist at work.