(Winter & Winter/Birdland)
If you want density the piano is the weapon of choice. When its keys – like 88 tuned drums – are thundering 10 at once it generates a sound as torrential as any orchestra, which Uri Caine demonstrates on the tile track here. More often the American prefers to remind us of the wonder it being equally capable of a delicacy so diaphanous that it rivals a harp. Meanwhile its phenomenal range and harmonic and dynamic potential make it the solo instrument par excellence, as Art Tatum, Thelonious Monk and Keith Jarrett and others have shown.
Caine’s solo and ensemble albums have re-imagined the music of Bach, Mozart, Mahler and Verdi, toyed with more conventional jazz repertoire and realised his own pieces. Unifying his work as been an unusual ability to make his love of the zany happily cohabit with an almost painful beauty. This direct-to-two-track analogue recording captures all the dynamism of his solo playing. It seduces with what ABC Classic FM would call “swoon” music, dazzles with invention and bullies with 88-note cyclones.