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Regina Carter Keeps The Kids Dancing

Although Regina Carter received the prestigious MacArthur Genius Grant for scholars and artists, she is a disarmingly down-to-earth person. Carter loves to laugh, she loves to lead her band and she makes it a pleasure to work with her.

At "Starry Nights" at the Rose Center for Earth & Space, the audience is full of children. Carter keeps them moving with a lot of dance music. Carter herself started playing as a small child in Detroit, taking Suzuki lessons on a tiny violin. Years later, she recorded an album in Genoa, Italy, on a violin once owned by the 19th-century virtuoso Nicolo Paganini. Very few violinists in the classical world — and none from jazz — have been permitted to touch or play it, so Carter felt deeply honored.

An institute in Thelonious Monk's name finds and trains some of the most promising young musicians out there. One is pianist Helen Sung, a graduate of the elite Monk Institute of Jazz Performance. At first, Sung thought she wanted to be a classical pianist. But since undergraduate school, she has spent her years learning to swing and play the blues. Finally, she says, she's beginning to integrate the different parts of her music. For her CD Sungbird, she arranged music by the Spanish classical composer Isaac Albeniz for jazz quartet.

Credits

Thanks to Andrew Rowan, producer of "Starry Nights," the former jazz series at the Rose Center for Earth & Space, American Museum of Natural History, New York City. Recordings by Duke Markos and the WBGO crew.

Copyright 2008 WBGO

Becca Pulliam