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Uri Caine: Blue Wail

Uri Caine has all the chops a pianist could reasonably ask for and a familiarity with a variety of genres inside and outside of jazz. What it seems he could use more of is focus. He’s played in a lot of contexts and recently got some attention for his work with Mahler’s material. Here he’s in a trio with bassist James Genus and drummer Ralph McDonald. Nine of the ten compositions are his.

Caine swings easily and has a nice, light touch here, drawing his style from many sources, including McCoy Tyner, Wynton Kelly and several classical composers. He blends these influences skillfully, but doesn’t cover new ground; in fact his playing wouldn’t have been considered particularly modern fifteen years ago. Most jazz pianists don’t come close to accomplishing what Caine’s been able to do, and I enjoy listening to his work on this CD.

But having amassed all these tools and become conversant with and able to play in so many ways, it’d be great to see him move up one more level and be-come more original.

Originally Published