Ucross Journal is Ernesto Diaz-Infante's third release in his series of solo piano music, after Itz'at (1997) and Tepeu (1998). While the previous two comprised improvised material, Ucross Journal mostly consists of short pieces written during the pianist's residency at the Ucross Foundation in Ucross, Wyoming. From March 31 to April 24, Diaz-Infante kept a musical journal of his impressions. The 25 resulting pieces are very short (between one and two and a half minutes) and minimalist (the music arches back to Itz'at). Notes are delicately touched, arpeggiated three or four at a time, making up a chord that is held a few seconds before another sequence comes in. The piece is over before the idea had time to wear out. The last five pieces are a little longer (three to four minutes) and are improvisations based on the journal material. Stylistic differences are minimal.
Diaz-Infante's music on Ucross Journal is striking. This minimal, very tonal and reflexive approach destabilizes the hard-core avant-garde music fan and yet one couldn't argue that it isn't new or avant-gardist. The influences range from Erik Satie's most delicate pieces to some of Olivier Maessian's piano works. But still, the listener may remain uncertain: is this stripped-down playing a daring aesthetic choice or the result of a lack of technique (a feeling reinforced by the pace at which the pieces were written -- one per day)? This question was to be answered by Diaz-Infante's next solo album Solus.