Uri Caine is known for his work with Dave Douglas and also for his renegade reinterpretations of Bach, Wagner, and Mahler as well as the Tin Pan Alley songwriters. But here the fiery pianist lets loose in a trio setting, with the deadliest of rhythm sections: bassist James Genus and drummer Ralph Peterson, Jr. Whether playing fast (“Loose Trade,” “Digature of the Line,” “Stain,” “Fireball,” “Bones Don’t Cry”), medium (“Sweet Potato”), or slow (“Blue Wail”), Caine and company imbue every tune with an extraordinary blues feeling and a fat swing groove. But this is not just another straight-ahead piano trio outing. Caine gives the form a shot in the arm with these sophisticated compositions, all of which contain a bevy of surprises. Blue Wail is on the whole an aggressive, burning album, although Caine mellows a bit with “The Face of Space,” an ingenious hall of metric mirrors, and “Poem for Shulamit,” a rubato piece that evokes a magnificent stillness. Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose,” the one non-original of the set, appears as both the first and the last track, with Caine taking the tune apart in a solo setting. It’s an inspired move: Why not frame a batch of modernist creations with a statement drawn from jazz piano’s earliest days? – David R. Adlermore »
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