Bach Project - Uri Caine


Interview with


Uri Caine



When you have those ecstatic moments in Bach’s music,
that uplift, that feeling of transcendence -
it was something that started to happen more and more
when I would just sort of submit to all these voices swirling around. 
It was almost like I was forgetting I was playing music
and I realized, whoa, you’re in another place now.



The Goldberg Variations to me represents sort of Bach’s summing up
of all the musical interests that he had in his life. 
He’s putting in all the different techniques,
all the different national musics, the humor, the pathos.



And also his sense of unity. 
In other words, this idea that all these pieces,
in all their various manifestations
are all derived from the same harmonic grid. 
It’s an amazing achievement.



If you look at Goldberg Variations,
it’s sort of Bach trying at the end of his life
to include his musical universe in this one piece.



You know I think there’s some similarities between Baroque music
and Bach’s music with jazz.  The walking base line, the figured bass,
which sort of outlines chords but allows the keyboard player
to fill in the harmony the way they want to do that. 
I always thought in my own mind as a jazz musician
that Bach sort of had his own place in music history
and in the sense that there was a lot of things
you could learn from him as a musician,
especially how his harmony moves and how the intricacies
of the counterpoint that he’s setting up, how he writes fugue.



All those things and if you love something
and you study it and you bring to it like a seriousness of purpose
but also a sense of fun, a sense of the joy of playing music in a way that’s real. 
It’s not something that’s heavy-handed but something that’s natural. 
You know, maybe you can bring a different point of view
to how you’re playing.  For me, it’s totally selfish. 
I just love playing the music.



You know that’s really sort of the message
that I’m getting from Bach,
that there’s the universal aspect
of wanting to embrace a lot of different types of music
but doing it with a lot of different techniques,
not just with your head but with your heart. 
It contains the universe.