Uri Caine’s 1995 session Toys, digitally remastered in 2005, is a musical stew. Featuring an all-star congregation of young avant superstars, plus veteran bassist Dave Holland anchoring the proceedings on bass, this Caine release has a lot to offer fans of different jazz genres. You‚ve got the Latin beat of Caine’s Time Will Tell, a somewhat respectful rendition of Herbie Hancock’s The Prisoner, mixing electronic Miles Davis effects with a wild drum solo by drummer Peterson, and an equally frantic tenor solo by Gary Thomas.
Uri Caine’s Herbal Blue mellows out the CD with only Caine in lyrical form backed capably by Dave Holland and Ralph Peterson. The rhythm section is again featured alone on the more up-tempo Or Truth?, where we are treated to a tasty bass solo by Holland. Yellow Stars in Heaven brings most of the band members back in an avant setting and Dave Douglas has a strong solo statement to make here as does percussionist, Alias. Over and Out is another Latin-tinged number with Douglas again center stage.
Herbie Hancock is again revisited with Dolphin Dance, which features again only the duo of Caine and Holland, with Caine largely giving respectful backing to Holland. The title track, Toys, still another Hancock composition, brings most of the band members back with only Byron and Alias sitting out. Caine has some nice blues lines and Peterson’s drumming tends to overwhelm the others, as does Gary Thomas’ tenor. Dave Douglas again salvages the tune with his powerful clean solo. The Hancock tribute again continues with Don Byron and Caine tackling Cantaloupe Island, which goes from avant to blues-based. Caine’s Woodpecker is more avant Caine with Holland providing a steadying influence.
The updated 24-bit remastering is good reason for Caine fans to revisit Toys for the challenging and varied terrain it explores.
– Jeff Krow