Regina Carter dedicated I'll Be Seeing You to her mother, who recently passed away. In the process of recording this disc as both loving tribute and musical therapy, Carter followed the advice of arranger John Clayton, working through a set of tunes culled from her mother's youth. The results are wistfully nostalgic and viable in their commemoration.
The violinist has recorded in a number of configurations and styles, from duets with pianist Kenny Barron on Freefall (Verve, 2001) to full orchestra on Paganini: After a Dream (Verve, 2003). This session finds her in an intimate, stripped-down format. Her regular piano/bass/drums rhythm section is occasionally augmented by Paquito D'Rivera (clarinet) and Gil Goldstein (accordion). Their sumptuous contributions add an air of authenticity to this program of Great American Songbook standards and early swing tunes.
Dee Dee Bridgewater and Carla Cook lend their vocal talents to a few numbers. Cook's bluesy inflection on "St. Louis Blues" and Bridgewater's lively scat solo on "This Can't Be Love" are highlights. Both are giants in their fields, and Carter couldn't have asked for better interpreters for this material.
Carter's discography is a textbook example of the varied experiences from which modern jazz musicians draw inspiration. She was once a member of the String Trio of New York and has accompanied such independent thinkers as James Carter, Mark Helias and Steve Turre. While there is nothing overtly avant-garde on I'll Be Seeing You, the recording definitely manifests a sense of playfulness. She adds uplifting Bachian invention to "Little Brown Jug" and swings John Kirby's arrangement of Edvard Grieg's "Anitra's Dance" with an infectious energy worthy of Raymond Scott. Her buoyant, extended interpretation of "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" features a string of solos for the whole group.
The violinist is in excellent form throughout, soaring with lyrical panache on the swing tunes, grinding away blissfully on the blues numbers, and revealing a tender, dulcet side on the ballads, with a somber take on the titular closing track. Despite the context, the album never drifts into maudlin territory. Simultaneously celebratory and reverent, I'll Be Seeing You is a fitting tribute to Grace Louise Carter.
Anitra's Dance; Little Brown Jug; Bei Mir Bist Du Sch
Regina Carter: violin; Xavier Davis: piano (except 4); Matthew Parrish: bass; Alvester Garnett:
drums (except 4,9); Dee Dee Bridgewater: vocals (3,9) Carla Cook: vocals (5,6,11); Paquito
D'Rivera: clarinet (1-4,6); Gil Goldstein: accordion (1-3,6,12).