119

Bill McBirnie: Nature Boy

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Bill McBirnie: Nature Boy Now that the great Moe Koffman is no longer among us, there’s an opening in Canada for an outstanding straight-ahead jazz flutist, and I suspect that, with Nature Boy, Bill McBirnie has submitted his application and staked his claim.

In the liner notes McBirnie is modest about his talents, but he needn’t be. He has great chops, a clear, sparkling sound and enough luminous ideas to brighten anyone’s melancholy frame of mind. McBirnie showcases each of those assets on an album that is evenly divided between two studio dates, one with pianist Mark Eisenman, the other with Eisenman’s stalwart trio (Steve Wallace, bass; John Sumner, drums). The threesome lends its support on five selections, Eisenman on the others (including two takes of Lester Young’s “Blue Lester”).

The choice of an opener — “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” — is unusual, to say the least (I’d have led with the more seductive “Poinciana”), but McBirnie and his colleagues wrest as much mileage from the venerable “Friend” as they can, as is true of every number. In terms of mood and tempo, “Poinciana” is reminiscent of the memorable recording by pianist Ahmad Jamal’s trio with Sumner thumping the tom-toms in the manner of Ahmad’s drummer, Vernell Fournier, and McBirnie’s supple flute adding an extra dimension. Elsewhere, Sumner’s deft brush work helps underline Sam Rivers’ “Beatrice” and launch the traditional folk song, “Billy Boy.”

McBirnie’s diligence and craftsmanship are matched throughout by Eisenman, who plays with remarkable comprehension and assurance, whether soloing or embellishing McBirnie’s perceptive comments. And when the trio comes on board, the partnership is not impaired but broadened and enriched.

According to McBirnie, who has played everything from classical to avant-garde, Nature Boy is his first album of “straight-ahead acoustic jazz with a good strong rhythm section.” Let’s hope it’s not his last.

Contact: Extreme Flute, 16 Glenora Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M6C 3Y3, Canada. Phone / fax 416-652-1541; e-mail billmcb@idirect.com. Web site, webhome.idirect.com/~billmcb


Track Listing: What a Friend We Have in Jesus; Monk

Personnel: Bill McBirnie, flute; Mark Eisenman, piano; Steve Wallace, bass; John Sumner, drums.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Extreme Flute | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Take Five With...
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "The Outlier" The Outlier
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 22, 2016
Read "Live At The Open Gate" Live At The Open Gate
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 13, 2016
Read "Three Miles From Avalon" Three Miles From Avalon
by Doug Collette
Published: October 15, 2016
Read "Signature" Signature
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 17, 2016
Read "Live In New York" Live In New York
by John Sharpe
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "Regards To You II" Regards To You II
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!