USA: Uri Caine | "Calibrated Thickness" | Available August 12 via 816Music
Genre-Warping Pianist Uri Caine Continues to Reinvent the Jazz Trio Format on Calibrated Thickness - Available August 12 via 816Music
Debut of New Trio with Two Longtime Collaborators:
Drummer Clarence Penn and Bassist Mark Helias
"...a ferociously versatile jazz musician..."
- The New York Times
is best known as a genre-warping, restlessly inventive pianist and
sonic thinker whose every project is as predictably unpredictable as the
last. But the piano trio remains a touchstone for Caine, who returns
regularly to apply his expansive imagination to that core jazz format.
On his latest album, Calibrated Thickness, Caine debuts a new trio with two longtime collaborators: drummer Clarence Penn and bassist Mark Helias.
a lot of freedom in the piano trio," Caine says. "It's very open and
loose. We keep the structure together, but within that I like the
freedom it offers."
Though the title is a phrase that Caine stumbled across in a technical manual, Calibrated Thickness vividly
captures the sense of controlled dynamics and calculated density that
this trio so ably masters. The album's 15 songs are in a sense a
distillation of the musical identity that Caine, Penn and Helias have
forged over the last few years as a trio (in addition to many more in
different contexts). Live, Caine's memorable compositions are landmarks
that the trio happens upon in the course of lengthy improvisations,
fluidly morphing from one tune to the next at a moment's whim.
On Calibrated Thickness,
the tunes are presented in a more pristine fashion, showcasing Caine's
gift for witty, agile melodies, inspiring structures and wide-ranging
stylistic approaches. The short pieces (few of which top five minutes)
give the trio the opportunity to spark concise, focused improvisations
from the flint of the leader's well-honed compositions. "When you're
playing and writing music you're always calibrating how to build it or
structure it or form it," Caine explains.
relationship between Caine and Penn dates back a couple of decades,
most notably in trumpeter Dave Douglas' quintet that also featured
saxophonists Chris Potter or Donny McCaslin and bassist James Genus. The
pianist came to work with Helias through their shared tenure in Don
Byron's band. Joining the trio on three tracks is the ingenious
cornetist Kirk Knuffke, whose sharp, probing sound adds an extra edge to the pieces on which he appears.
Courtesy of Artist
offers a straightforward, no-nonsense reason for assembling this
particular trio, his first release in that guise since 2011's Siren with
bassist John Hébert and drummer Ben Perowsky. "I like the sound," he
says, a simple enough proposition but one that can be maddeningly
elusive. "I like the way Clarence accompanies and sets things up; Mark
has a really warm sound and is really flexible. There's a lot of room to
move with them."
The 15 Caine originals contained on Calibrated Thickness run
the gamut of styles, from jagged, angular modern pieces to more
straight-ahead swingers that harken back to Caine's early days playing
hard bop in Philadelphia (albeit with his usual idiosyncratic twists and
turns) to more lyrical, ballad-inspired playing that spotlights the
warm expressiveness that sometimes gets eclipsed by his bold
album kicks off with the powerful, rollicking swing of "Manahatta,"
titled for the original Lenni Lenape name for the island at the
epicenter of the jazz world. "Woke Up This Morning" uses a blues cliché
to label a piece of pure, rattletrap abstraction that depicts the trio's
explosive spontaneous interplay. That tune contrasts sharply with the
shimmering, delicate "Icicles," highlighted by Helias' moving lyricism,
eventually consumed by the tune's surging roar.
makes his first appearance on the zigzagging "Submission," while
"Golem" offers a round of broad-shouldered, barrelhouse swing. "Bleeding
Heart" is remarkably hushed and intimate, the album's quietest, most
delicate moment despite building with nervous intensity. "Night
Wrestler" is bright and buoyant, "Climb To the Top" barbed and
dissonant." Knuffke returns to provide darting, keen-edged lines on
"Hidden Glances," while "Scatterbrain Suite" offers a slapstick
soundtrack for an imaginary silent film.
playing on "He Said She" sparkles with classical elegance and hymn-like
simplicity, while "Sticks and Stones" dances with brisk soulfulness.
Helias' tense, scraping bowed bass pairs with Penn's jittery rhythms to
give "Time in Between" its frenetic urgency, while "Shadow of a Doubt"
kicks off with an odd-angled dialogue between Caine and Knuffke.
"Downward Spiral" brings the album to a close with a nimble, circling
figures that draw an aural picture of the title.
"I wanted to include all these different styles of playing trio," Caine says of Calibrated Thickness.
Despite being a more traditional setting than many of the pianist's
projects--his eccentric, style-smashing reimaginings of classical
repertoire come immediately to mind--the piano trio offers no less
opportunity for Caine to show off his broad-spectrum tastes and
his early days backing soul-jazz horn players in Philly nightclubs
through his convention-defying work with Downtown New York
avant-gardists and adventurous classical ensembles to his
always-surprising catalogue as a leader, all facets of Caine's diverse
artistry are contained herein.
Uri Caine · Calibrated Thickness
816Music · Release Date: August 12, 2016
For more information on Uri Caine, please visit: UriCaine.com