"Mahler has been asking for this ever since he took a nursery rhyme in his First Symphony and recast it as a death march". - Norman Lebrecht
One of Winter & Winter's very first releases was a musical milestone for our time. The album 'Primal Light' [910004-2] by American jazz musician Uri Caine, is a fascinating hybrid of music, drawing its inspiration from synagogues, coffee houses, classical concert halls, jazz clubs, the streets, funerals and houses of ill repute. Uri Caine's ancestors were Russian Jews and he was born and brought up in Philadelphia, where he studied classical music and played jazz in clubs. In 1983 he recorded his first album, 'Sphere Music', dedicated to Thelonious 'Sphere' Monk and his second album 'Toys', which is also a dedication to one of the jazz greats: Herbie Hancock. These two albums already hint at Caine's exciting juxtaposition of two completely different worlds of sound: 'new' American jazz music and 'old' European classical music. On the jazz album 'Toys' Caine already reflects on Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations and anticipates his own "Goldberg Variations" which appeared to unanimous acclaim in the year 2000. In 1995 Uri Caine's Gustav Mahler adaptation (made for the Mahler documentary film by Winter & Winter) had its première at the Knitting Factory in New York City and it seemed certain even then, that Mahler would continue to play a significant role in Uri Caine's works. This concert - where Uri performed his Mahler, led to the conception of Uri's first Mahler CD 'Primal Light' - announced the end of JMT and it was the birth of Winter & Winter.
Five years on and following the success of such highly acclaimed albums as 'The Goldberg Variations' [910 054-2], 'Bedrock' [910 068-2] and, most recently, 'Diabelli Variations' [910 086-2] Uri Caine releases his new Mahler album 'Dark Flame' on Winter & Winter. Once again he unites 'incompatible' elements taken from synagogue to Chinese tea house and on to American vaudeville. Painfully funny and refreshingly unsanctimonious (as Norman Lebrecht would say), Uri Caine gives the Russian-Jewish-American poet Shulamith Wechter Caine, American poets Julie Patton and Sadiq Bey, German actor Sepp Bierbichler, synagogue cantor Aaron Bensoussan, Chinese singer Tong Qiang Chen, American gospel singer Barbara Walker and the German Kettwiger Bach Choir a chance to put their own personal stamp on Mahler's songs. 'Dark Flame' is also the result of a long and intensive cooperation with the instrumentalists of his regular ensembles: Ralph Alessi on trumpet, Jim Black on drums, Don Byron on clarinet, DJ Olive on turntables, Mark Feldmann on violin, Michael Formanek on bass, David Gilmore on guitar and the Chinese group featuring Sisi Chen on yangquin, Tao Chen on dizi, Bao-Li Zhang on erhu and Yi Zhou on pipa... Uri has been performing with these musicians in numerous festivals (Salzburger Festspiele, Opernfestspiele at the Nationaltheater in Munich, Holland Festival at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Lincoln Center in New York City).
Uri Caine is equally at home in all genres - be it the Jewish tradition, North American jazz, Brazilian rhythms, European classical music or ethnic New York. His music is an eclectic mongrel for the 21st century, full of ciphers and signs from the past. The more intensely we hear his music, the clearer we discover signs of our time.
"Dark Flame is the perfect tool to appeal against the common conviction that Lieder is deadly dull".
- Stefan Winter
In 2003 Uri Caine was designated as a musical director of the Venice Bienniale and from 2004 he will be artist in residence at the Philharmonie Essen in Germany. Uri Caine's first concert in Essen will be "Dark Flame" on July 9th, 2004.