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Neal Caine: Backstabber’s Ball

Bassist Neal Caine demonstrates his unique compositional skills on this disc of original material. He’s among his longtime musical companions drummer Jason Marsalis and the fine tenor team of Ned Goold (with whom he shares a bandstand in Harry Connick Jr.’s group) and Stephen Riley, who doubles on alto clarinet. The quartet works without a chordal instrument, allowing for a very airy, organic sound that is accented by the woody quality of Caine’s bass.

A sense of teamwork prevails as the musicians take on this challenging material. Even when the musicians head out, an individual and collective sense of subtlety prevails, as heard on the light touch of “Late Night Living.” It’s as if the music is being softly whispered or performed atop a fluffy, white cloud. No, there’s not much swinging going down but the music’s originality engages the listener with its depth and caress instead. Caine is successful in bringing both intellect and romance to the bandstand with a group of creatively likeminded musicians.

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