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Uri Caine is a popular pianist/composer who mixes classical, jazz, and other forms of music in his own compositions, as well as in his arrangements of works by others. It is for his arrangements that he is probably best known, and it is here also that he is wildly imaginative and, to some, controversial. In his version of J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations, for instance, he employs many types of music beside classical -- multiple forms of jazz, bossa nova, klezmer, and samba -- and suggests the styles of a spate of other classical composers, including Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Rachmaninov, Sullivan, and others, while generally treating the original score respectfully, if a bit waywardly. Purists might not approve of many of his arrangements, but both critics and public have shown strong support. Caine often performs with his own ensemble, the Uri Caine Ensemble, as well as with other jazz groups and classical orchestras. He has appeared on numerous recordings over the years on a variety of labels, including Winter & Winter, Tzadik, and JMT.
Uri Caine was born in Philadelphia on June 8, 1956. He began studies on piano at the age of 12 with jazz pianist Bernard Peiffer. Later on he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, where his most important teachers were composers George Rochberg and George Crumb.
During his student years in the late '70s Caine began performing with jazz musicians in the Philadelphia area, including Philly Joe Jones, Bootsie Barnes, Hank Mobley, Johnny Coles, Jymie Merritt, Bobby Durham, and many others. He continued playing regularly after his 1981 graduation and made his first recording in 1985, with the Cornell Rochester/Gerald Veasley Band.
Caine moved to New York in 1988 and regularly appeared there with many top jazz ensembles, including the Clark Terry-led Swing Machine, Frank Tiberi's Woody Herman Big Band, and numerous others. Since the early '90s, Caine has made nearly 20 recordings as a lead player, many with the Uri Caine Ensemble and with his Bedrock Trio.
Caine's 1997 CD Urlicht/Primal Light, based on the music of Gustav Mahler, was a sensation, as was his 2002 CD version of the Beethoven Diabelli Variations, recorded with the Concerto Köln Chamber Orchestra. Caine has served as composer-in-residence for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (2005-2009). Among his recordings is the 2008 Winter & Winter CD The Othello Syndrome featuring arrangements of music from Verdi's Othello.
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