412

Uri Caine/Bedrock: Shelf-Life

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Uri Caine/Bedrock: Shelf-Life If Uri Caine's first Bedrock album was a warning shot across the bow, Shelf-Life is an outright broadside. The keyboard player's 2001 trio record with drummer Zach Danziger and bassist Tim Lefebvre blended electric jazz with contemporary and neo-retro styles, heading adventurously into a no man's land of beats, jams, and freaky madness. This followup (a hefty seventy minutes' worth) is even more mixed up, aided in no small part by a guest list ten players long.

Depending on your personal tastes and breadth of exposure, the rapid and regular shifts in mood, style, and era on Shelf-Life may be energizing or disconcerting—probably a combination of the two. As for me, it all adds up to pure joy, in no small part due to the music's unpredictability. Caine, Danziger, and Lefebvre are not so reckless as to ever lose control, so individual tracks may wander a bit, but they never get lost. And that's absolutely key. Tightness is a virtue.

"Wolfowitz in Sheep's Clothing" digs into a stop-start funk groove driven by bass and drums and punctuated by wispy threads of trumpet (Ralph Alessi), electronically processed sounds, and keyboard vamps. Neither the rhythm nor the melody dwells in the realm of cliche, and none of it stays in one place for long. Compare the group's sound to the similarly configured Medeski, Martin and Wood, for example, and the difference is night and day: MMW is a jam band by formula; Bedrock is an alliance of three creative musicians who just so happen to hover in this particular zone for a few minutes before taking off elsewhere.

Regular retro trips look backward for inspiration. "Blakey" digs into '70s disco motifs (complete with heavy backbeat, trippy riffs, primitive-sounding keyboard tones, and congas), but layers of continuously evolving texture buoy it far above potential ruts. A similar track called "Sweat," one of two that feature vocals, closes out the album. "Strom's Theremin" sounds uncannily like a decades-old shuffle jam, and the spaceman effects on the monophonic keyboard leads refer directly to the era of synthesis (aka the dawn of the synthesizer).

Luke Vibert, who's probably most familiar to followers of electronic music by his Plug or Wagonchrist aliases, produces and programs three tracks. But they're not all minimalistic exercises in stacked beats, like Plug's late-'90s experiments, but fully fleshed out club bump-and-grinders.

Perhaps the most revealing thing about Shelf-Life is the fact that all the tracks fall in a radio-friendly two to six-minute range, never overstaying their welcome. All the self-conscious movement is going to keep most of this material off the airwaves—except for college stations—but the spirit of the music is true to the title. By extracting hipness from dinosaurs past and present, Bedrock's method ensures that this music will never grow old.

Visit Uri Caine on the web.


Track Listing: SteakJacket Prelude; SteakJacket; Defenestration; Wolfowitz in Sheep's Clothing; Blakey; On The Shelf; Darker Bionic Cue; Strom's Theremin; Oder; Murray; bE lOOse; Watch Out!; Bauwelklogge (dedicated to Mel Lang); Shish Kabab Franklin; Interruptus; Hello; Sweat.

Personnel: Uri Caine: keyboards; Zach Danziger: drums, percussion; Tim Lefebvre: bass, guitar. Special Guests Ralph Alessi: trumpet (4,9); Bootsie Barnes: saxophone (10,16,17); Ruben Gutierrez: clarinet (10); nnnj: reconstruction worker (7,11); DJ Olive: electronic (15,16); Bunny Sigler: vocals (17); Arto Tuncboyaciyan: percussion (1,5,6,8); Luke Vibert: production, programming (6,13,17); Barbara Walker: vocals (11,17); Dan Zank: string programming (17).

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Winter & Winter | Style: Funk/Groove


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "The Big Shake-Up" CD/LP/Track Review The Big Shake-Up
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "Tiresia" CD/LP/Track Review Tiresia
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "She Sleeps, She Sleeps" CD/LP/Track Review She Sleeps, She Sleeps
by John Eyles
Published: March 15, 2016
Read "Flux" CD/LP/Track Review Flux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 18, 2016
Read "Abbey Road Sessions, Vol 1" CD/LP/Track Review Abbey Road Sessions, Vol 1
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "Dream In The Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Dream In The Blue
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 28, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!