Adam Birnbaum: Travels (2009)
Travels is the long awaited debut album for one of the younger voices in jazz piano. The term debut, however, is ill suited for someone like Adam Birnbaum, who has spent his short career opening for, and performing with, some of the better-known names in the industry such as saxophonist Greg Osby and pianist Brad Mehldau. As a result, the music presented in this album reflects a well thought-out, technically proficient, and quite simply, talented pianist who is at the top of his successful, albeit, new career.
The dissonant, yet melodically soothing "Three for One" delightfully showcases Birnbaum's ability to be musically derivative, while still maintaining a fresh voice. The haunting chordal interplay on the drum/piano exchange delivers edge of your seat excitement. Robert Schumann's "Hor' Ich Das Liedchen Klingen" is an exquisite treat on this album. Taking the late composer's waltz, Birnbaum has transformed a piece of classical tradition into a swinging jazz ballad. Simultaneously, it woos over the best of sentimental listeners, while revealing a sought after technical proficiency in the pianist's lines.
Birnbaum's piano playing is a fine display of what a beautiful blend of technical mastery, originality, and respect for those that came before, can achieve. Travels presents extremely catchy, intellectually pleasing compositions, performed by a musician who has nowhere to go but up if he continues to rise to such acoustically profound endeavors.
Track Listing: Jackhammer; Kat's Dance; Three for One; Kate the Great; Travels; Band Call; Song of Those Who Seek; House Party Starting; Hor' Ich Das Liedchen Klingen; Urgency; The Very Thought of You; Camden.
Personnel: Adam Birnbaum: piano; Joe Sanders: bass; Rodney Green: drums.