Regina CohenViolin virtuoso Regina Carter is considered the foremost jazz violinist of her generation. Winner of a coveted 2006 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship, she is also a Resident Artistic Director at SF JAZZ.

In 1987, she joined the all-female pop-jazz quintet Straight Ahead and appeared on their first three albums before leaving the band in 1991 and moving to New York, where she picked up session work with artists including Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel, Dolly Parton, Max Roach and Oliver Lake. She released her self-titled solo album on Atlantic in 1995, followed by Something for Grace, an album dedicated to her mother and released in 1997. Carter also toured with Wynton Marsalis that same year, then switched to the Verve label where she released Rhythms of the Heart in 1999. Motor City Moments, a tribute to her hometown, followed in 2000.

In December 2001, she traveled to Genoa, Italy, and made musical history by being the first jazz musician and the first African American to play the legendary Guarneri Del Gesu violin, made in 1743 and owned by classical music virtuoso and composer Niccolo Paganini. This encounter inspired her 2003 album, Paganini: After a Dream, which featured works by Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy and Italian film composer Ennio Morricone. She recorded I’ll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey in 2006 as a tribute to her late mother. That same year Carter was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, given to a highly select group who “show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work.”

Reverse Thread, released in May 2010, was a celebration of traditional African music via a contemporary perspective. Carter also took her pioneering spirit on the road in the late summer and fall of 2012 for a two-month world tour with rock icon Joe Jackson’s stellar ensemble in support of his release The Duke, a collection of interpretations of Duke Ellington’s work .

Carter continues her musical quest for beauty and history with her SONY Music Masterworks debut Southern Comfort, in which she investigates her family history and explores the folk tunes her paternal grandfather, a coalminer, would have heard as he toiled in Alabama. The expanded project includes a blend of folk songs and spirituals, serving as Carter’s interpretation of her roots through a modern lens.

Said Chuck Mitchell, Senior Vice President of SONY Masterworks, “We’re tremendously pleased to have the incomparable Regina Carter with us at Masterworks. Her musical odyssey has been charted through a series of unforgettable recordings over the years and Southern Comfort is the latest and perhaps the most eloquent expression of her deep and profoundly enlightening musical humanity.”

Regina’s new album, Ella: Accentuate the Positive, marks the 100th birthday of a musical legend. The album celebrates the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald – THE source of Regina’s musical inspiration. An influence she has cherished throughout her life, Regina describes her visceral connection to Ella’s music:

“Growing up in Detroit, there was always music playing in our home. While there was a variety of music I enjoyed, there were a few recordings and artists I found consistently captivating. Ella Fitzgerald was one of these exceptions. To this very day, whenever I hear an Ella recording it grabs me at my core. I’m entranced by her voice, her melodic improvisations and the passion and artfulness with which Ella sings a song. She helps me understand a song by providing a window to its essence. In a word, Ella is sublime, and she is at the top of my go-to list when learning a jazz tune. Perhaps Jimmy Rowles said it best, “Music comes out of her. When [Ella] walks down the street…she leaves notes.” I’m so excited to celebrate Ella Fitzgerald, an artist who has meant so much to all the notes in my musical life.”

For Regina Carter, the violin isn’t merely an improvisational vehicle. It’s a passport to unexpected realms, a Rosetta stone that unlocks the door to a myriad of cultures and worlds.

This last performed with La Jolla Music Society in the Jazz Series on October 7, 2016


Guitarist and composer Marvin Sewell was born and raised in Chicago. He learned how to play the guitar by hanging out with many Chicago basement bands, and was exposed to a variety of styles of music. In high school, he started playing with the Malcolm X Community College Big Band, and from there started playing with many famous local Chicago musicians such as Von Freeman, Ramsey Lewis, Billy Branch, Jody Christian, Big Time Sarah, and Barbara La Shore. He moved to New York in 1990, began working with his first major jazz group, Jack Dejohnette’s Special Edition, in 1992. At that same time, he was playing with jazz cellist Diedre Murray and jazz bassist Fred Hopkins. The following year he recorded albums with Jack Dejohnette, Diedre Murray, and Gary Thomas, and played in Hannibal Peterson’s composition African Portraits, an opera in which he played blues slide guitar in collaboration with the St. Louis Symphony, New Music Symphony, and the Westchester Symphony Orchestra. In 1995, he began playing with Cassandra Wilson with whom he played a variety of string instruments for six years. On Wilson’s album Traveling Miles, Sewell co-wrote the song, “Right Here, Right Now” with Wilson. In 2002, Sewell did a tour of eastern Africa with the Newsoeme, Sewell, and Harris Trio, performing in Kenya, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, and Mauritius. Today, he spends most of his time writing music for his own band, The Marvin Sewell Group. Additionally, Sewell has performed and recorded with Ani DiFranco, David Sandborn, Marcus Miller, Jorge Sylvester, Greg Osby, Joe Lovano, George Benson, Sekou Sanidiata, Peter Herborn, and a host of many other esteemed musicians.

This performances marks Marvin Sewell’s La Jolla Music Society debut.


Born and raised in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Chris Lightcap played violin and piano before taking up the electric bass at fourteen. As a senior in high school he started to study the upright bass and the following year he enrolled at Williams College. During this period he studied bass, composition and improvisation with Milt Hinton, Cameron Brown, Robert Suderburg, Alvin Lucier, and Bill Dixon. Upon graduating from Williams with the school’s Hutchinson Arts Grant, he moved to his current home, New York City. He began performing weekly with the Cecil Taylor Big Band in 1995, and was invited to perform in a trio with Archie Shepp and Sunny Murray in Paris the following year. For the next two years he worked regularly throughout New York City in a trio led by a saxophonist George Garzone. In 2000, Lightcap joined the ensemble of Regina Carter. He has performed and recorded extensively with Carter on four continents and has been featured alongside her group with the Boston, Atlanta and Minnesota Symphonies. He has also toured and played major festivals with such bandleaders as Mark Turner, Tomasz Stanko, Ravi Coltrane, Joe Morris, Ben Monder, Terrel Stafford, Ralph Alessi, and Rob Brown. In 1998 he began to write for his own group, a quartet featuring Gerald Cleaver on drums and Tony Malaby and Bill McHenry on tenor saxophones. Lightcap’s two recordings with this group, Lay-Up (2000) and Bigmouth (2003) were on CMJ’s top 10 radio chart and received critical acclaim in The New York Times, Jazztimes, Cadence, Village Voice, and All About Jazz. In 2005, Lightcap expanded the band to include Craig Taborn on keyboards and named the group Bigmouth. In 2010, he released his third album, Deluxe, and it was named one of the year’s top albums by NPR, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Jazz Times, Village Voice and Time Out New York. In 2011, Chamber Music America awarded Lightcap a New Jazz Works commission grant. The result, New York: Lost and Found was premiered by Bigmouth at the 2012 Earshot Festival and featured on NPR’s Jazzset with Dee Dee Bridgewater. This music, along with a cover of Lou Reed’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” was released under the title Epicenter on Bigmouth’s 2015 album Clean Feed. He has also appeared on recordings with Tom Harrell, Dianne Reeves, Marc Ribot, Anthony Coleman, Steve Bernstein, Roy Campbell, Mat Maneri and Joshua Bell.

This performances marks Chris Lightcap’s La Jolla Music Society debut.


Drummer Alvester Garnett was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1970. He began his formal studies in percussion at the age of 14, and was first introduced to jazz at the age of 16. While still a junior in high school and participating in an all-county high school jazz band, he met Ellis Marsalis, who advised him to obtain the famed jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis recordings of Max Roach and many others, including “Papa” Jo Jones, “Philly” Joe Jones, Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, James Black, and Ed Blackwell. During the following summer, Garnett again studied with Marsalis in a summer program for gifted musicians at Virginia Commonwealth University. He later joined the Malden Diplomats Drum and Bugle Corp in Boston, and the summer after graduating high school attended Gunther Schuller’s music training program at The Festival at Sandpoint in Sandpoint, Idaho. It was here that he first met and studied with master drummer Max Roach, leading trumpeter and educator Wynton Marsalis, and jazz historian Martin Williams. Garnett graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1993. During his undergraduate career, he won third place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drum Competition. After college, he relocated to New York, where he worked with Betty Carter’s trio and became a member of Abbey Lincoln’s quartet. He was also a member of Cyrus Chestnut’s trio, and in 1998 began touring extensively with both Regina Carter and James Carter. Among his numerous appearances and accomplishments, he has appeared on PBS’s Great Performances in a tribute to Kurt Weill along with Betty Carter; performed on a live record with saxophonist Teddy Edwards, as well as the albums Earth Stories with Cyrus Chestnut and Who Used To Dance with Abbey Lincoln. He has also continued working with numerous artists including Dee Dee Bridgewater, Clark Terry, Dr. Michael White and the Richmond Symphony.

This performances marks Alvester Garnett’s La Jolla Music Society debut.

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