Uri Caine and Various Artists

The Sidewalks of New York: Tin Pan Alley

Winter and Winter, Munich (910038-2)

Uri Caine, musical director, piano and voice; Ralph Alessi, Dave Douglas, trumpets; Don Byron, clarinet; Bob DeBellis, flute; Josh Roseman, trombone; Bob Stewart, tuba; Dominic Cortese, accordion and vocals; Nancy Anderson, Sadiq Bey, Renae Morway-Baker, Fay Galperin, Saul Galperin, Philip Hernandez, Brian D'Arcy Jones, Susan Haefner, Barbara Walker, Stuart Zagnit, vocals; Crowd voices by The Sidewalks of New York Choir; Eddy Davis, banjo; Mark Feldman, violin; James Genus, bass; Ben Perowsky, drums

Listeners anticipating a faithful recreation of the famous Tin Pan Alley tunes of early twentieth-century New York should be forewarned that the loose, theatrical narrative and recitations which run through this seventy-seven minute recording frequently detract from otherwise competent musical performances. Interpretations of music by such varied and distinguished composers as Scott Joplin, Eubie Blake, Jerome Kern, and Irving Berlin exist in spite of musical director Uri Caine's relentless overdubs of bar room conversations and other extraneous sounds which attempt, much too literally, to evoke the ambiance of a long-gone era. While it's undeniable that some of the music represented in this collection evolved in theater, a question reasonably arises as to whether a Music Hall review format is the best vehicle for presenting a succession of distinct musical styles. And as to whether Caine considered the degree to which overdubbed dog barks tend to undercut Blake's wonderfully kinetic "Charleston Rag" remains to be seen.
Caveat Emptor.

by James D. Armstrong, Jr.

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