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Uri Caine: Bedrock

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Lacking the stunning conceptual audacity of watershed recordings like Urlicht/Primal Light and The Goldberg Variations, Uri Caine’s Bedrock, Solitaire and Rio are relatively casual albums. But their simultaneous release implies they are companion discs to be heard in the aggregate. With each focusing on a genre or context, they can be likened to layers of Caine’s polystylistic programs, peeled away to be heard in a more expansive forum. While each stand-alone volume has its own merits, hearing them in proximity gives a comparable composite picture of Caine’s creative range, albeit one that takes three hours to absorb instead of one.

Bedrock pays homage to Herbie Hancock’s role in articulating the tenets of old-school fusion, and its successive integration of funk and hip-hop. Hancock’s transposition of his mid-’60s rhythmic and harmonic innovations onto the Fender Rhodes is central to the surge and dip that gave early fusion its avantish electricity. Time and again, Caine adroitly whips up the intensity with staccato chords, slashing single-note runs and jabbing octaves, then downshifts into a spacey, reverb-rich rubato. Each step along the way, bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Zach Danziger supply just the right mixture of close-order precision and tangential virtuosity. Still, Danziger’s samples and DJ Logic’s turntables tip the locus of the album as Downtown Now, elevating the album above a two-dimensional genre study.

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