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Ryan Burns: Birds

Dan McClenaghan By

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Keyboardist Ryan Burns possesses a distinctive artistry, one that is integral to the success of the sound of the Matt Jorgensen + 451 group on sets such as Hope (Origin Records, 2004) and Another Morning (Origin Records, 2008), and with trumpeter Thomas Marriott on the strange and stellar Crazy:The Music of Willie Nelson (Origin Records, 2008). Burns also works as a leader on the acoustic piano trio set Tree-O (Odd Bird Records, 2007), and now on the plugged-in Birds. A fine pianist, Burns is virtuosic and always adventurous on the electric side of the keyboard spectrum.

Birds opens with the title tune that he introduced on the Another Morning CD. The sound glows into existence on luminescent electric keys at a measured pace. The dry, tart sound of Mark Taylor - Sax's alto saxophone seeps in, counterpointing the Fender Rhodes gleam with Burns' stick-in-the-mind melody. "June Bug" has an eerie, exploration-of-another-planet vibe, with bassist Geoff Cooke and drummer Jose Martinez supplying an altered gravity rhythm behind the leader's otherworldly safari.

"Humility" has an earthbound sound—soulful and late at night, with a half a bottle of bourbon on the table beside the empty glasses---while "PIP" jitters along, with Taylor sounding edgy on the alto.

"Turbulence" opens with Bach-like grandeur, drifting in no particular direction with an amorphous structure and orchestral electric keys. With "Blues for Hadley," a nod to Origin Records stable mate Hadley Caliman—a marvelous Straight Ahead (Origin Records, 2009) tenor saxophonist—Burns and the group steer things back almost into the middle of the mainstream.

The set closes out with "Slip Away," a relaxed, bluesy tune featuring the leader on Hammond organ and Cooke handling the melody on this pastoral gem, wrapping up a shining set by one of jazz's rising stars.

Track Listing: Birds; June Bug; Humility; P.I.P; Turbulence; Blues for Hadley; Slip Away.

Personnel: Ryan Burns: Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ, Moog Synthesizer, Wurlitzer; Geoff Cooke: electric and upright bass; Jose Martinez: drums; Mark Taylor: alto and tenor saxophones.

Title: Birds | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Odd Bird Records


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