Bill McBirnie & Bruce Jones
CD: Grain of Sand
The great artists out there offer listeners something that can be awe-inspiring. Canadian alto Flute and Alto Flute player Bill McBirnie recently teamed up with Bruce Jones (guitar, percussion, synth) for “Grain of Sand” Both fit well into this aforementioned category. Bill is well known for his outstanding technique. However, he is also recognized as an exceptional improviser (notably in the bebop, swing and Latin idioms) as demonstrated by his numerous recordings as a sideman with the likes of Junior Mance, Irakere, Memo Acevedo and Emilie-Claire Barlow. Needless to say, Bill has performed and recorded extensively with Toronto’s finest musicians and has been a longstanding charter member of Bernie Senensky’s Moe Koffman Tribute Band
The Flute – This artist is driven by a passionate, direct approach that make up for something more than just a skilled instrumentalist. When McBirnie plays his Flute, he’s not just worried about getting those notes right, about keeping up with the BPM (things that he can do effortlessly, anyway) and other technicalities, but he focuses on the feeling. Music is first and foremost an expression. It’s about the energy that gets released in a room, when musicians can create just that perfect vibe, that feel and that charisma, which in a moment feeds back to the audience, whose response goes back to the band, just like a spark. The Voice – and then Jones and McBirnie take to the microphone – both seamlessly switch gears. What you hear is a controlled full-range musical energy, all positive redefining sweetness, tonality, flexibility, smoothness, and style that makes you believe you’re hearing a professionally recorded CD. With his Flute, McBirnie is able to express more of his true soulful passion Then without any effort, continues his expression vocally on a few tracks. The two flow together in a way that no other artist has ever done. Jones fills the empty space very well with his guitar, percussion, synth and vocal touches. His ability to have a beautiful low-end presence along with crisp highs is brilliant.
his CD is a journey that keeps on going and the passion remains all the way until the end. His rather simplistic, almost under bearing musical personality, infectious style, insurmountable talent and zest for life is more than apparent on “Grain of Sand.” Although this is not my first choice for musical style – there is no denying this CD personifies life, and personifies McBirnie’s zest for life’s mysteries and wonders as the title to rightfully implies. All of these factors make this debut CD an absolute pleasure to listen to on lazy days with nothing on the agenda. Track 1 “Grain of Sand” and my favorite pieces “Na Quinta Esquina or (On the Fifth Corner)” and Quandro A Chuva Cai” or (As the Rain Falls) deliver an amazing blend of Latin Jazz that’s almost epic and theatrical pop stature. Music is extremely cathartic, surreal, and relaxing. This is especially true now that the summer is winding down and as the leaves will be beginning to fall. Some songs have hot to the touch overtones “Lembrando Paul Horn” (Remembering Paul Horn)” while others have a ring of truth to them like ”Izabel” and “Vai Bem Devager” (Proceed with Caution). “Grain of Sand” is a highly syncopated mostly jazz-inspired song with truthful convictions providing musical meandering teetering on brilliant. Slowing down the paces deliver almost love balladry. All pieces highlight McBirnie’s tranquil and passionate side, but I might add he stays strong and consistant with his powerful playing. I especially like how many songs within this 14 track collection flow so naturally like a river or stream. These final 2 tracks “Com ou Sem Voce, Meu Amor (With or Without You, My Love), and Grao de Areia (Grain of Sand) wave you in for a safe landing. Kudos goes out to the impeccable Flute work and behind the scenes contributions from both McBirnie and Jones. It’s obvious to me thes sats are having a lot of fun with it via the thickly laced melodies. After listening to all the Latin-Jazz grooves on Grain of Sand by Bill McBirnie & Bruce Jones. it’s very clear that their talents are far beyond what I could have expected or even imagined from Canada.