May 1997

Michael Cain
Circa
ECM Records

Pianist Michael Cain possesses a fresh perspective encompassing classical, jazz and non-Western. Although just 30, he's had substantive associations with Jack DeJohnette, Dewey Redman, Anthony Cox, Oliver Lake, Dave Holland, James Newton and the New American Orchestra. With training at North Texas and the California Institute of Arts, his stylistic compass, to say the least, is broad. Cain is also a professor of music at the Eastman School of Music.

Here, in the good company of saxophonist Peter Epstein and trumpeter Ralph Alessi, the pianist sails the pan-stylistic seas with an adventurous approach at once abstract and accessible.

In contrast to much of the jazz avant garde, the superb training of the principals gives the music an uncommon degree of precision and panache, and an individual as well as collective tonal quality that can only be described as gorgeous. Also exceptional is the trio's ESP-like interactivity. Whether brooding or burning with pointillistic fire, one is impressed as much by the music's "first-time" spontaneity as by its overall design and structure, all of which makes Cain's major label recording debut an event to celebrate.

Originally published in May 1997
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