Do you know D.C.?
Get our free newsletter to stay in the know about local D.C.
If Reverse Thread sounds both airy and folksy, it’s purely by design. Esteemed jazz violinist Regina Carter explores the folk music of Africa with this album, revealing in the process just how deep and varied those traditions are: Indeed, the very first track, “Hiwumbe Awumba” is a piece of Ugandan Jewish music. Likewise, it’s hard to overstate the depth and richness of Carter’s work here. Her violin effortlessly portrays the easy singsong of these hand-me-down melodies from Mali, Senegal, Madagascar, and elsewhere, but without sacrificing the virtuoso clarity of her tone and the complex weavings of her improvisations (the unbearably catchy “Kanou” being a sterling example of both). She also quite cleverly embeds harmonies from the likes of Puerto Rico and India into the arrangements for accordion and kora, a subtle but compelling demonstration of just how far the African diaspora reaches. (Her band also deserves high praise, especially kora player Yacouba Sissoko, accordionist Gary Versace, and percussionist Alvester Garnett.) It’s a landmark achievement purely on intellectual merit, but its sheer listenability—-nay, delectability—-makes it a major early contender for best jazz album of 2010.