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Violin trailblazer Regina Carter highlights Bay Area jazz week

The violin has long had an uneasy relationship with jazz -- too entrenched in symphonies and string quartets to really sound like a jazz instrument, too expressive and enmeshed with multiple traditions that informed the shape of jazz to ignore.

Regina Carter
Bob Travis/Wikimedia

In the past few decades, a new breed of fiddlers has emerged bent on resolving such seeming conflicts by ignoring labels. It's all music, and the violin belongs just about anywhere you care to tote it. Chief among these has been Regina Carter, who's built a dazzlingly original repertoire that references influences from America, Europe, Africa and elsewhere while retaining a dynamic jazz center. Her latest project, "Southern Comfort," filters her brilliance through a geographic lens, drawing on Southern motifs ranging from spirituals to Hank Williams. She'll perform the songs with her quintet for shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday, at SFJAZZ Center. Tickets are $25-$55.

Also worth noting on the Bay Area jazz scene this week:

  • Sachal Vasandi, a brilliant young vocalist who makes everything old sound new again, doubles up with piano prodigy Taylor Eigsti for a 7:30 p.m. Tuesday concert at Piedmont Piano Company in Oakland. $20
  • Dee Bell, a singer who deftly mixes Latin and straight-ahead jazz instincts, celebrates the release of her long-awaited album, "Elation," with an 8 p.m. Tuesday show at Yoshi's Oakland. $25
  • Saxophonist Branford Marsalis, a one-time firebrand who's matured into a player of considerable depth and wisdom, cuts loose with his quartet for shows at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at SFJAZZ Center. $35-$75, but tickets are almost gone.
  • Drummer Josh Jones and his Pan Power Trio kick up an Afro-Caribbean storm, 8 p.m. Friday at the California Jazz Conservatory. $12-$15
  • Bassist, bandleader and all-around Bay Area jazz essential Marcus Shelby celebrates the Duke Ellington legacy with his orchestra for an 8 p.m. Friday Cal Performances show at Zellerbach Hall. $22-$68
  • Halie Loren, a young torch singer with a deliciously earthy tone and compelling sense for phrasing, teams up with violin wunderkind Mads Tollling, sure to draw out her Euro-jazz tendencies, for a 7p.m. Sunday show at Yoshi's San Francisco. $25
  • Ed Reed, a singer with impeccable blues instincts whose richly burnished tone reflects eight decades of wisdom, performs with a quartet of Bay Area instrumental aces, 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society near Half Moon Bay. $35
  • Pianist and salsa legend Eddie Palmieri convenes his orchestra to kick off another gem-filled series of free shows for the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, starting 1 p.m. Sunday.

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