Uri Caine - Callithump
4 stars SMH
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 title track here.
More often the American prefers to remind us of
the wonder of the piano 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, Keith Jarrett and others have
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 has been an
unusual ability to make his love of the zany cohabit with an almost
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
- JOHN SHAND
To come straight to the point: Uri Caine performs
and records all pieces of this album in one single pass without an edit,
second takes do not exist, everything is made of one cast. This music
is full of tension like a unique concert as if performed for one person
being alone with the artist in the room.
Uri Caine plays compositions for piano solo on a
special Steinway grand piano in the former Power Station recording
studio, a room with excellent acoustics and best analog technique.
Producer Stefan Winter works with a microphone
set-up that allows to record the sound directly to an analog master tape
without any artificial reverbration and special effects and without a
manipulation of the frequency ranges. Ron Saint Germain, the third man
of the team, directs the recording device; especially for this
live-to-analog-two-track procedure the sound engineer has a major
responsibility as his work determines the specific recording level
making the sound saturation unchangeable in the very moment of the
"Callithump" is a somewhat burlesque serenade, an extraordinary parade.
Uri Caine's distinctive playing comes to its full
reveal in the piece Map of the Heart and in the virtuoso compositions
Greasy or Chandon de Johnson. Bow Bridge consists of elements of
composition and improvisation. Everything is Bullshit reminds of a
Kagel-like foray into the realms of the Harlem stride piano. The Magic
of her Nearness carries in itself the wonderful and sentimental but
exciting, sometimes bemusing duality that pervades the whole recording.
This solo album closes with Dotted Eyes and leaves inside the listener still after the last tone an intensive excitement.