Neal “Sugar” Caine is one of the premier jazz bassists on the scene today. His dynamic style is punctuated by a huge sound, a great feel, and masterful technique that have made him the chosen bassist to an array of stars, from Harry Connick, Jr. and Diana Krall, to the venerable jazz legends Betty Carter and Elvin Jones. A dual resident of New York City and New Orleans, this St. Louis native has delighted audiences worldwide since he began touring internationally at age 19 with the Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet.
His resume reads like a “Who’s Who of Jazz”.
1991 – 1993 Ellis Marsalis Trio
1991 – 1993 Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet
1994 – 1996 Elvin Jones Jazz Machine
1997 Diana Krall Trio featuring Russell Malone
1998 Betty Carter Trio
1999 Benny Green Trio
2000 Harry Connick, Jr. Big Band
2017-2018 House Bassist on the television talk show: “Harry”
Born in St. Louis in 1973, Neal began playing the violin (The Suzuki Method) at age of three, picking up the electric and acoustic bass in his teenage years. After graduating from the University City High School, a hot bed of talented jazz musicians, Neal attended Tulane University and immediately began to perform at the jazz clubs around town with musicians such as Ellis Marsalis, Earl "The African Cowboy" Turbinton, Nicholas Payton, Donald Harrison, Brian Blade, etc.
In 1994, Neal joined the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine and moved to New York City. After three years with Elvin Jones, Neal joined the Diana Krall Trio with guitarist Russell Malone for one year. At which point he had the opportunity to join legendary jazz singer Betty Carter’s Trio, for one year until her untimely death. In 2000, Neal joined the Harry Connick, Jr. Big Band and has been his personal bass player ever since.
Neal has also performed with Nicholas Payton, John Batiste and Stay Human, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, John Hicks, Gladys Knight, Jeff Watts, Dr. John, Billy Hart, Oliver Lake, Mark Anthony, Antonio Hart, The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Brian Blade.
Neal has performed on a variety of Broadway musicals including:
The Pajama Game
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
On a Clear Day
Bullets Over Broadway
Caine is currently an Adjunct Professor at the New School for Social Research, and has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of New Orleans, and other educational institutions including The Village School Jazz Camp and the Don Jamison Heritage School of Music.
NOTABLE GIGS / VENUES:
At the White House for President Barrack Obama and Michelle Obama
For President George W. Bush
At Yankee Stadium for Pope Benedict XVI (2012)
With The Boston Pops, conducted by John Williams
2001 NBA All-Star Game
2008 NBA All-Star Game
2002 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremonies in Salt Lake City
Royal Albert Hall (London)
Sydney Opera House
Ryman Auditorium (original Grand Ol’ Opry)
Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor
Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting (2008, 2011, 2017)
“The Jungle Book” with Dr. John, Christopher Walken, Bill Murray
The Boston Pops – John Williams Conducting (PBS)
The Today Show
David Letterman Show
Montreaux Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Spoleto Festival (Italy)
Newport Jazz Festival :
Festival International de Folklore et de Percussions (Senegal)
Caine’s debut album entitled “Backstabber’s Ball” is described as “reserved, thoughtful and intimate, yet discreetly grooving". His critically acclaimed album of original compositions brought notice not only to the 'melodious thunder' of Neal's bass, but to his 'considerable imagination as an arranger and composer.' (Riverfront Times)
“It’s not just the full-toned, springy and momentum-maintaining bass which beside the cool saxophonists brings to mind Charles Mingus.” – Popmatter.com
“A solid timekeeper with a big sound on bass, Caine shows considerable imagination as an arranger and composer.“
– Riverfront Times
“Neal Caine has a knack for writing wistful melodies that sound like half remembered standards.”
– Kevin Whitehead, NPR