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Caili O’Doherty: Quarantine Dream (Posi-Tone)

A review of the pianist's sophomore set

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Caili O'Doherty: Quarantine Dream (Posi-Tone)
The cover of Quarantine Dream by Caili O’Doherty

Dreams—some born of illness and isolation, others bound to artistic aspirations and hope for the future—cohere to form a reality for Caili O’Doherty. Leading a trio with bassist Tamir Shmerling and drummer Cory Cox and bringing saxophonist Nicole Glover into the picture as a special guest, this rising star pianist delivers a sophomore set buoyed by experience and driven by the possibilities it presents.

Opening on Oscar Peterson’s “Blues for Big Scotia,” O’Doherty nods to an early inspiration with love and respect. Further on, her “WTF” references a common rhythmic comping pattern from an Art Taylor drum solo that resembles, in cadence and flow, the title acronym’s expanded form. Smiling solo-piano beauty “Al” pays tribute to one of O’Doherty’s family friends, fondly reflecting on how he introduced her to so many important recordings and documented her early gigs. And Duke Pearson’s “You Know I Care” takes a walk on the funky side, offering a broadened perspective on a master’s canvas. 

Other guiding forces of note factor into the program—loose-flowing “The Last Trip to the Moon” grew from film composing work initially inspired by Antonio Sánchez’s Birdman score, “Salt & Vinegar” draws on a constructional concept supporting Kenny Kirkland’s “Chance,” Charles Tolliver’s “Truth” makes for a quietly contemplative closer—but none of those figures and touchstones overshadow or suppress this leader’s instrumental voice. While bowing to personal favorites and sharing meditative thoughts that sprang from a bout of COVID-19 (as on the title track), Caili O’Doherty works her own sound and sensibilities. She’s one to watch, now and in the future.

Learn more about Quarantine Dream at Amazon!


Dan Bilawsky

Dan Bilawsky has been involved in jazz journalism for 15 years. His work has appeared in JazzTimes, JAZZed, and All About Jazz, among other outlets. In addition, he’s penned liner notes for artists on Red, Capri, HighNote/Savant, Ropeadope, and other respected imprints. A band director with 20 years of teaching experience, he holds degrees in music from Indiana University, the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, and Five Towns College.