I know, I know – you’d like to click one link, read one piece about something, anything, that doesn’t mention Donald Trump. I understand completely. So I’ll make it short, because let’s face it, less than two weeks into his presidency and after an exhausting –what, eighteen months, two years? Eternity? – his administration has been the lens through which everything has to be viewed right now. As I write this, it’s been 24 hours since a crowd of 5,000 gave the President and his party a proper Philadelphia welcome, pressed up against the on-the-nose symbolism of garbage truck barriers blocking out the masses. Given Trump’s mantra of a return to lost greatness and the mood of fear/hope for to be found in that crowd and in the general response lately, thoughts of revisiting the past and reimagining the future are inevitable, and jazz is an ideal medium for that. Outside of that political context, plenty of shows this month that look simultaneously backwards and forwards.
Philly native Uri Caine has long done just that. Throughout a wide-ranging career that started out with bebop gigs with Bootsie Barnes in local clubs and grew to embrace every style of jazz from straightahead to the far edges of the avant-garde, the pianist is still best known for his inventive and eclectic transformations of classical repertoire. As part of his residency at Swarthmore College, on February 4th Caine will perform his genre-leaping interpretations of music by Mozart and Mahler, and invite equally all-embracing vocalist Theo Bleckmann to join him for songs by either Schubert or Schumann. More information here.