Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

The Neal Caine Quartet 

Wednesday, June 15; the Linnean Lawn of the Missouri Botanical Garden (as part of the Whitaker Music Festival)

Jazz bassist Neal Caine has amassed an impressive list of credits since leaving University City for New Orleans, New York and beyond. Known as a sideman to musicians such as Harry Connick Jr, Diana Krall, Ellis Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Benny Green and the late Elvin Jones, now Caine is coming home to lead his own quartet in a free outdoor concert for the Whitaker Music Festival at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. This trip back to St. Louis is special, however, because Caine will be celebrating the release of Backstabber's Ball, his brand new CD debut as a leader and composer.

Reserved, thoughtful and intimate, yet discreetly grooving, the music on Backstabber's Ball evokes the pianoless quartets of the west-coast "cool jazz" of the '50s in some places, and in others seems almost like outtakes from Dave Holland's Conference of the Birds, re-imagined as sketches in muted pastels. A solid timekeeper with a big sound on bass, Caine shows considerable imagination as an arranger and composer, getting the most from the available instrumental resources, yet knowing when to edit or change direction to refocus a listener's attention. With able assistance from Ned Goold and Stephen Riley on saxes and clarinet and Jason Marsalis on drums, the result is a quietly satisfying musical experience that combines smart writing with carefully controlled emotion.

Backstabber's Ball undeniably shows that Caine has the skills to be a successful leader. The only question is how the cozy mood sustained so well in the studio will adapt to the very different requirements of an outdoor concert performed in front of thousands. But if Caine is half as smart as his debut CD makes him seem, he'll find a way to win over the crowd without even working up a sweat.

The free concert begins at 7 p.m.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Latest in Critics' Picks

Read the Digital Print Issue

June 16, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation