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This adventurous outing pairs two classically trained jazz musicians, Kenny Barron on piano and Regina Carter on violin, with a wide variety of material, including standards, a contemporary pop song by Sting, and some originals. Classical composers have been writing for the combination of violin and piano for some time, but it's still a novel sound in the jazz world, and Carter and Barron seem determined to explore every nuance of the musical partnership. The disc opens on a high note with “Softly as a Morning Sunrise,” on which Carter’s Gypsy-inflected violin soars above Barron’s Cuban mambo to create an upbeat cultural mélange. In the midst of all this interplay, Barron somehow takes a turn into the blues for his solo -- the result is infectious and playful. “Fragile,” the Sting song we’ve all heard on the radio too many times, is reinvented here as a lovely ballad for Carter’s singing violin. A highpoint of the album is the duo’s treatment of the Monk standard “Mysterioso,” which adapts so well to this instrumentation that one wonders if an all-Monk album shouldn’t be in the works for these two. The seesawing melody at the opening –- a trademark piece of Monk-ishness that rides up and down the octaves with lunatic grace –- sits perfectly on alternating pizzicato violin and staccato piano. Carter, who seems to be able to do just about anything with four strings and a bow, shows off everything she’s got here –- string slides, trills, double-stops –- and captures a keen sense of the bluesy fun at the heart of Monk’s composition. The album takes a turn into free jazz in the title cut, borrowing heavily from the contemporary classical idiom. If there is a point of confluence between totally unconstrained jazz improvisation and the highbrow notated atonalism of the last few decades, then this is it, complete with tone clusters, shivery chromatic phrases, and strident rhythms straight out of Shostakovich. “Shades of Gray,” a Carter original, offers contrast in the form of a soothing ballad, taken with a lush, singing vibrato on the violin. This is a highly original disc, covering a lot of musical ground in just over an hour. We can only hope this pair will continue the explorations they’ve begun so fruitfully here.