Adam Birnbaum: Three of a Mind

Karl Ackermann By

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Pianist/composer Adam Birnbaum has performed in the company of diverse leaders such as traditionalist trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the edgier saxophonist Greg Osby and the eclectic composer/conductor Darcy James Argue and his Secret Society. On one hand Birnbaum is a change agent having utilized three different rhythm sections in as many outings as a trio leader. He also demonstrates a strong conviction for retaining a musical style rooted in fundamentals. On Three of a Mind he is joined by veteran drummer Al Foster—whose résumé includes Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk—and Foster's regular bassist Douglas Weiss both of whom he has also performed with.

A Julliard graduate, Birnbaum's frequent appearances on the downtown New York club scene have grown to a presence at a number of prestigious international festivals. He has composed commissioned works and arranged a unique hybrid of classical and ethnic Japanese folk music for performance. Birnbaum's variety of musical experiences have provided him with a rich melodic vocabulary and a firm sense of timing. The familiar trio configuration on Three of a Mind does their best work when they work together, taking advantage of their individual and collective experiences together.

The high level of synergy is revealed from the start with the buoyant "Binary." A bit funky and repetitive, Foster and Weiss add a fullness that carries over to the moderate tempo "Dream Waltz." The latter features an appealing solo from Weiss. Foster subtly guides alternating tempos moving seamlessly from shuffle patterns to layered rhythms and adding dimension to simple compositions. A number of pieces such as "Thirty-Three," "Rockport Moon" and "Stutterstep" are unmistakably rooted in mainstream jazz but Birnbaum uses grass roots rudiments to drive his controlled style of improvisation.

Birnbaum expertly utilizes his experience and understanding of music to challenge himself with a multitude of methods and styles. His non-westernized encounters allow him to rethink conventional structures without discarding them. In the company of Foster and Weiss the players use each other as sounding boards that fuel an openness to individual development. The trio doesn't marginalize improvisation though it is often camouflaged by their ability to play with flawless coherence.

Track Listing

Binary; Dream Waltz; Thirty-Three; Brandyn; Rockport Moon; Stutterstep; Kizuna; Dream Song, #1 (Huffy Henry); Ooh, What You Do to Me.


Adam Birnbaum: piano; Al Foster: drums; Douglass Weiss: Bass.

Album information

Title: Three of a Mind | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Daedalus Records


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