Swing States: Harmony in the Battleground
Release date: July 31, 2020
Label: Tiger Turn/eOne

For the momentous release of Swing States: Harmony in the Battleground, multi-GRAMMY nominee, MacArthur Fellow, and Doris Duke Award recipient, violinist Regina Carter has brought together an astonishing ensemble of consummate musicians: multi-GRAMMY award winners John Daversa (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Kabir Sehgal (bass, percussion), GRAMMY nominees Harvey Mason (drums) and Jon Batiste (piano) - renowned for leading the house band on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert - alongside the widely-acclaimed Alexis Cuadrado (bass). Releasing before the most consequential election in American history, and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests, this politically charged fourteen-track collection strives to illuminate the power of democracy and serve as a beacon of hope during these unprecedented times. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be a humanitarian crisis like no other, and in 2020 - a year that serves as a hugely significant one to American politics - presents new and unfamiliar challenges to the country’s democracy. While we face this unprecedented time, celebrated musical force Regina Carter has set out to deliver an optimistic and encouraging project that extols the importance of taking part in the democratic process. Angered and dumbfounded by the sheer volume of registered voters who decided not to vote in 2016, Regina reflected, “voting is a civic duty and an extremely important responsibility, even more so now as we are living in surreal times...we have become a divided country of Red vs. Blue, Us vs. Them or Not Our Kind and that pot is starting to boil over.” On Swing States: Harmony in the Battleground, the opening track provides immediate insight into Carter’s childhood memories of the discrimination African Americans faced within the democratic system of the US as she highlights the sacrifices that many had to endure to gain the right of suffrage. 

With the support of this veritable group of musical all stars, Regina selected the official (and some unofficial) songs of the “swing states” that will determine the election, such as “Pennsylvania”, “Swanee River” (Florida), and “Rocky Mountain High” (Colorado). A selection of other reimagined, apropo American classics round out the album. 

A native of Michigan - a swing state with sixteen pivotal electoral votes - Regina opted to represent her home state of Michigan by including “Dancing in the Streets,” a song that is synonymous with Motown. Regina’s searing rendition of “We Shall Overcome” - an anthem of the civil rights movement that is still painfully relevant today - can also be regarded as a soundtrack for enduring and overcoming the ongoing health crisis. Representing executive producer Kabir Sehgal's home state is “Georgia On My Mind” and as he notes, “as much as I’d like to think of my native Georgia as a swing state, for now I will have to be satisfied knowing that “Georgia On My Mind” is beloved by people of all parties.” Regina chose to close the album with the theme song to Faygo Pop, a popular soda made in Michigan and in doing so, provides the listener with some much needed levity during the current times. 

Swing States: Harmony in the Battleground was recorded at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University, with each of the group pieces arranged by John Daversa. Daversa also joins Kabir Sehgal on production duties, alongside Doug Davis and Harvey Mason Jr.

“The Swing States project is a musical contribution that I hope will help galvanize folks to get out, exercise their right to vote and encourage their brothers and sisters to do so as well.”
- Regina Carter

Perhaps the pandemic will reveal the resiliency of American institutions as well as the innovativeness of its people. At long last there may be a concerted effort to make voting easier: early voting, absentee voting, voting by mail, perhaps even online voting. The current situation might prove to be the catalyst to enfranchise more to participate in the democratic process. Sehgal continues, “we hope that Swing States: Harmony in the Battleground helps people forget about which states are red and which are blue. We have fifty swing states (and a few territories). We’re all Americans. We’re all humans. Let’s work together to become survivors.” 

Derived from liner notes by Kabir Sehgal.

LILY O'BRIEN
SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE
Now, with a successful career spanning more than three decades, Carter, 58, released her latest recording, Swing States: Harmony in the Battleground, in July. Recorded last December over a three-day period, it is a lighthearted, playful, upbeat, and celebratory salute to patriotism and was created to inspire people to get out to vote. Read this full feature here.

 

DAVE DOUGLAS
GREENLEAF MUSIC
Dave Douglas Zoom chats with MacArthur Fellowship recipient violinist Regina Carter about her wide ranging experience in all sorts of music. Her mentorship with Marcus Belgrave in Detroit and her arrival in New York and entry into the creative scene. Listen to this podcast here.

 

BRENDA NELSON-STRAUSS
BLACK GROOVES
"Whether you swing towards red, blue or purple, Swing States offers “a beacon of hope during these unprecedented times” by stressing the commonalities and shared experiences in all corners of our nation. Kudos to Carter and her crew, who give a phenomenal performance!" Read this review here.

 

DEE DEE MCNEIL
MUSICAMEMOIRS'S BLOG
"Her entire album offers fourteen songs and short essays, stacked like buttermilk pancakes, fresh off the griddle and drizzled with warm buttery blues, like hot Alaga syrup."  Read this review here.

CHRIS SPECTOR
MIDWEST RECORDS
"With spoken segments linking unlikely musical choices played seriously and with passion, this is a much more powerful statement than all the convention bloviating on both sides could render. This is your clarion call to get out and vote." Read this review here.

 

PHIL FREEMAN
STEREOGUM
Violinist Regina Carter has made this record with the intention of drawing people’s attention to the importance of voting, and she’s done so with an impressive band that includes trumpeter John Daversa, pianist Jon Batiste, Alexis Cuadrado on bass, Kabir Sehgal on bass and percussion, and Harvey Mason on drums. Read this review here.

 

MATT MICUCCI
JAZZIZ
Swing States reimagines 14 songs, each representing one of the “swing states,” in an attempt to illuminate the power of democracy through music. Read the full  article  here.

 

RICHARD KAMINS
STEP TEMPEST
"You can hum these tunes while marching, while writing to your Congress people, and in the voting booth."  Read the full  article  here.

 

JIM HYNES
GLIDE MAGAZINE
"A selection of other reimagined American classics round out the album. Most of these songs are familiar but the interpretations are at times jaw-dropping." Read the full review here.

THOMAS REES
JAZZWISE
"It's music to raise the spirits... The playing is excellent and Carter is typically magisterial, swooning, slicing, stretching notes to the breaking point, playing every phrase with feelings. She sounds like she's singing." Review in September 2020 issue.  

NATE CHINEN
WBGO
Regina Carter will take part in a special virtual event for WBGO members on Aug. 13; details to come by email this week. Not a member? Learn how you can support WBGO. Read the full  article  here.

 

ROB SHEPHERD
POST GENRE
"In many ways, Carter writes an enlightened and empowered sociological treatise, not with a pen but with a rosined bow." Read the full review here.

 

BRIAN ZIMMERMAN
JAZZIZ
For her latest album, violinist Regina Carter puts a unique spin on the term “swing state.” Read the full  article  here.

 

LAURIE NILES
VIOLINIST.COM
"The Swing States project is a musical contribution that I hope will help galvanize folks to get out, exercise their right to vote and encourage their brothers and sisters to do so as well," Read the full  announcement here.

DAVID GALLANT
JAZZWISE
Players feature in the September 2020 issue. 

WILLARD JENKINS
OPEN SKY
"Fresh off a splendid duo performance with her spouse, drummer Alvester Garnett, as part of DC JazzFest’s recently concluded virtual series Live From Our Living Rooms, comes “Swing States.” Full interview here

GEORGE W. HARRIS
JAZZ WEEKLY
"It’s wonderful to hear politics in a positive light and sound. Purple state glory." Read this review here.

 

EDITORIAL
JAZZ PRESS MAGAZINE (POLAND)
Top recommended album, July 2020. See the full list here