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EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Uri Caine: Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue

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What is to become of the Great American Songbook, that cultural document that served as scripture to the jazz community for the better part of the Twentieth Century? Today, what we think of as jazz has flown so far and wide that it's definition encompasses everything from Craig Taborn's Chants to Robert Glasper's Black Radio and Black Radio 2. While rightly called jazz, these examples are the keepers of no flame, rather they are the new flame burning the way for the future of the music, sometimes at the expense of the applicable past, which is the Songbook.

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Wagner e Venezia

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Released in 1997, the Uri Caine Ensemble's Wagner e Venezia somehow evaded proper consideration within the electrons of All About Jazz. No more. Caine and his unique brand of interpretation has long been well-regarded at the magazine. Wagner e Venezia is one of the pinnacles among pinnacles from the pianist/composer's early output. Wagner e Venezia is Caine's third release on the Winter & Winter label and the first where he used classical music as his creative jumping-off point. The following years saw the release of his excellent Mahler series, Gustav Mahler / Uri Caine: Urlicht / Primal Light (W&W, 1997), ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Uri Caine Trio: Siren

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Pianist Uri Caine holds a unique distinction, known the world over as a stellar jazz pianist, but a critics' darling for his genre-blind reworkings of classical music. His takes on the work of Gustav Mahler, Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Richard Wagner have become modern classics which straddle several musical worlds, but Caine's is no one-trick pony. When he isn't busy turning classical music history on its head, his restless artistic curiosity has taken him to a variety of other realms. The pianist tipped his hat to Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock, with album-length salutes to each, took ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Uri Caine Trio: Siren

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Siren is the first studio recording to feature pianist Uri Caine leading a traditional acoustic trio since 1998's Blue Wail (Winter & Winter). Since then, most of Caine's albums have alternated between radical reinterpretations of the work of revered classical composers like Beethoven, Mozart and Schummann, and the heavily amplified funk excursions of his Bedrock trio with bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Zach Danziger. Stripped down to their basic foundations however, most of Caine's efforts typically revolve around the classic piano trio format. Bassist Drew Gress and drummer Ben Perowsky have been Caine's primary accomplices in this configuration, last documented ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mark Feldman / Uri Caine / Greg Cohen / Joey Baron: Secrets

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Mark Feldman, Uri Caine, Greg Cohen and Joey Baron have all played integral parts in John Zorn's many explorations of Jewish improvised music. All four have won acclaim for the distinctness and flexibility of their sounds, but here they work in a setting that defines the meaning of traditional.

With a group such as this, it would be impossible to explore any theme, new or old, without bringing flares of insight. Secrets finds them interpreting a variety of niggunim, the often wordless prayer melodies sung by sects of Hasidic Jews, and they mix a jazz sensibility with slight, indefinable touches ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Uri Caine Ensemble: The Othello Syndrome

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Addressing the output of classical composers seems eventually to have become the dominant thrust of keyboardist Uri Caine's work. Schumann, Wagner, Bach, Beethoven and Mahler have fallen to sometimes radical re-posturing of their grand scores. Caine messes with the old assumed interpretations, deliberately distorting the usual expectations of performance by inserting elements of jazz, rock, funk, soul, blues, hip hop and electronica, always utilizing a cast of players from a broad range of backgrounds. Now, it's a Verdi mash-up. Othello is similarly dissected, analyzed, reshuffled and responded to, making an opera that could possibly possess appeal among ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Uri Caine Ensemble: The Othello Syndrome

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Uri Caine, in his own unique way, surveyed music from the Classical era with The Classical Variations (Winter & Winter, 2008) and The Plays Mozart (Winter & Winter, 2007). Caine moves both forward to Late Romantic Opera and back, picking up from Wagner in Venezia (Winter & Winter, 1997), with The Othello Syndrome. The disc title is a play on two things: the Giuseppe Verdi Opera Othello (1887) and the common name for delusional jealousy, both after the Shakespeare protagonist. The musical result here is a wild ride in a fast machine.

All of these musical and literary allusions would ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Uri Caine: The Classical Variations

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The Classical Variations is, in effect, a commemoration of Uri Caine's decade-long series of ambitious and sometimes idiosyncratic explorations of classical repertoire from Bach to Mahler. It combines previously released selections from Caine's Winter & Winter CDs along with unreleased material. A little more than half the material has appeared in previous releases focused on Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, Wagner and Mahler, while the unreleased, generally recent, material focuses on Bach, Mahler and Verdi. The selection immediately makes apparent the breadth and scale of Caine's work, drawing on musicians from baroque specialists Quartetto Italiano di Viole da Gamba ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Uri Caine: The Classical Variations

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One of the most attractive things about pianist and composer Uri Caine is his creative unpredictability. There are no musical genres he fears and, moreover, fears to combine in the post-provocative eutectoids. Caine's entire career has been characterized by this unpredictability, but he does have his favorite themes. One of those themes is his recasting of classical music with instruments and instrument combinations not traditionally associated with such music. The Classical Variations is a collection of previously released, unreleased, and several newly minted variations from his past recordings.

Caine's discography is flush with projects dedicated to the Western ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Uri Caine: Moloch: Book of Angels, Vol. 6

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Since multi-instrumentalist/composer John Zorn added three hundred new compositions to his Masada songbook in 2004, his label has released seven volumes of Masada Book Two with players including keyboardist Jamie Saft, pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, guitarist Marc Ribot and multi-instrumentalist Koby Israelite all rendering their own interpretations. Moloch, which translates to king, was a deity to whom ancient Middle Eastern worshipers sacrificed their first born. Thankfully, pianist Uri Caine's album isn't as brutal as one might suspect from something named for a god who is often depicted as a man with the head of a bull.

Not to say ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Uri Caine: Uri Caine Ensemble plays Mozart

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I'll be the first to admit that jazz's treatment of classical music has a bad rap. To my mind, it's not so much the “stuffiness of the latter genre as it is the tendency to simply take a classical composition and “make it swing. What separates Uri Caine's work from other efforts is his ability to take the music to unique, inventive places while maintaining the integrity of the original piece. For this project--which was commissioned for Mozart's 250th birthday--Caine brings a cadre of tremendous players who share his penchant for shattering barriers.

Caine uses Mozart's Piano Sonata ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Uri Caine: Developing That Third Ear

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Mozart's “Piano Sonata in C Major is one of the most well-known compositions in the entire musical canon. Last month pianist Uri Caine strutted across the stage at New York City's Merkin Hall, took his seat and dove into the familiar piece with genteel precision. But quickly, under the influence of his classically trained, but jazz-infected fingers, the music turned into a hard swinging improvisation delivered with a laid-back attack and drizzled with elegance.First and foremost, says Caine, he is a jazz musician, as Live At The Village Vanguard (Winter&Winter, 2004), his latest trio record, can attest. But ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Uri Caine: Plays Mozart

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Uri Caine is the most successful jazz artist at interpreting classical music. Jacques Loussier certainly applies his brand to such an approach, but he does so in an almost reverent, conservative manner. Caine throws the doors open and forces the old notes and time to reveal their decadent secrets.

Whether his canvases are established works, like Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, Bach's Goldberg Variations, or creative recreations like Gustaf Mahler at Toblack, Wagner e Venezia, and Schumann - Love Fugue, Caine recasts the familiar melodies in revealing and surprising ways. Caine now turns his attention to Mozart, addressing piano sonatas, symphonies and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Uri Caine: Plays Mozart

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Ten years ago pianist Uri Caine unveiled Urlicht/Primal Light (Winter & Winter, 1997), his first foray fusing electro-acoustic jazz improvisation with the structural intricacies of the Western Classical canon. Caine's take on Mahler was audaciously brilliant, and it laid the ground work for subsequent projects exploring the work of Bach, Beethoven, Schumann and Wagner. Plays Mozart is Caine's latest effort in this fertile milieu, as well as one of his most enjoyable.

This is a reunion of sorts: the members of Caine's ensemble have all played with him before in one or more of these projects, with the ...



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