When URI CAINE expounds on his trajectory in music, the word “natural” often re-occurs. French jazz pianist and composer Bernard Peiffer had already become Caine’s mentor at age 12, and later while Uri studied classical composition with George Rochberg and George Crumb at the University of Pennsylvania (“If you’re composing…you have a lot of choices and you try not to be paralyzed by all those choices…how do you make it seem natural, how do you make that seem inevitable in a piece of music?”), at night he was playing in bands led by Philly Joe Jones and Mickey Roker in Philadelphia clubs (“When you’re right there, listening to brilliant musicians, how can you not learn from that?”).
Uri moved to New York in 1985, and since then has recorded 30 albums as a leader: Calibrated Thickness, Space Kiss, and a CD with the Lutoslawski String Quartet – featuring new compositions for piano and strings – are his latest. Recent CDs include Sonic Boom with Han Bennink, Rhapsody in Blue and Callithump; projects with his ensemble performing arrangements of Mahler, Wagner, Verdi, Schumann and Bach; an acoustic trio that has made several recordings including Live at the Village Vanguard; and his electric Bedrock trio. He was Grammy-nominated for the Othello Syndrome in 2009.
Caine has received commissions to compose music for the American Composers Orchestra, the Arditti Quartet, the Vienna Volksoper, Concerto Koln, the Basel Chamber Orchestra and the Beaux Arts Trio. His most recent orchestra composition Sunburst was performed in June 2016 at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Sicily. Other recent compositions include Jagged Edges, a piano quintet written for the Afiara String Quartet, The Passion of Octavius Catto composed for the Philadelphia Orchestra and gospel choir celebrating the life of murdered civil rights leader Octavius Catto, and Hamsa, composed for the Swedish Chamber Orchestra. From 2006-2009 Uri was the Composer in Residence for The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and has performed his version of The Diabelli Variations with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra.
During the past several years Caine has worked in groups led by Don Byron, Dave Douglas, John Zorn, Terry Gibbs and Buddy DeFranco, Sam Rivers and the Woody Herman Band. He has received grants from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Pew Foundation and The USA Artist Fellowships. He has performed at the North Sea, Monterey, Montreal and Newport Jazz festivals as well as classical events such as the Salzburg and Holland festivals, the Munich Opera and Great Performers at Lincoln Center.
Loving Jazz because “Even mistakes can be made into something that sounds natural,” Uri feels that music comes from “something that’s very old and ancient, and built into the human psyche…it seems natural in the same way that language seems natural.” Regarding the Philadelphia Real Book, he states that it’s “It’s a compendium of what is possible…original music from a lot of different people…here’s another book of repertoire, here’s another canon that you guys can figure out how to play on.”