Bill McBirnie: Mercy (2010)
Bill McBirnie weaves a magic spell as he embarks on a musical journey that stops at 12 vantage points. McBirnie has established an enviable reputation as a flautist, with a particular emphasis on Latin jazz. Here, he goes way beyond that calling as he plays bebop, swing, Dixieland, bossa nova, and rock 'n' roll by way of New Orleans. Not only is he comfortable in every style, he elevates each to a high plateau.
McBirnie's explorations are luminous. He makes each note glowthe shades and contrasts as equivocal as the emotion and verve. "Gentle Rain" is one of the more compelling beacons of his light as it harkens to nature in the flute's billowing and rolling notes and breathy interlocutions. Robi Botos is quite the craftsman, and it is no wonder he has built a solid reputation as a pianist. He has a distinctive sense of direction and melody that he wraps in a cohesive flow of articulate dynamics. His power is controlled, a trait that adds to the evocative appeal of a song. His playing on "Mercy," a ballad which he wrote, is gently lyrical, the wash of his passion coming in the gradual building of the theme until that final thunder of the chords. McBirnie extends that with a sensitive reading, a steady pulse guiding his path.
An influence on McBirnie, flautist Hubert Laws' "Baila Cinderella" possesses a melody that dances on a springy rhythm. McBirnie pushes the melody on this quartet outing, also featuring drummer John Sumner and bassist Pat Collins' crackling cha cha beat. The flautist's intense evolution is matched by Botos, whose notes glisten in the wash of resplendent ideas and emphatic chord punctuations.
McBirnie tags "I'm Walkin'" as medium swing, but the Fats Domino song was always meant for dancing; with McBirnie's irresistible arrangement, it's tailor-made for some jiving and darn good fun.
With each track carving its own beguiling niche, the music is, to put it quite simply, awesome.
Track Listing: Baila Cinderella; Willow Weep For Me; Airegin; Stuffy Turkey; Gentle Rain; I'm Walkin'; Yardbird Suite; Way Down Yonder In New Orleans; Moment's Notice; Minha Saudade; Groovin' High; Mercy.
Personnel: Bill McBirnie: flute; Robi Botos: piano: Pat Collins: bass; John Sumner: drums.
Record Label: Self Produced