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Adam Birnbaum: Travels

Marcia Hillman By

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Pianist Adam Birnbaum gets around a lot, both geographically and musically—touring West Africa, for example, as part of the Rhythm Road program. Here however, he and his traveling companions—Sharel Cassity (alto and soprano saxophone), Joe Sanders (bass) and Rodney Green (drums)—take a musical journey through material mostly composed by the pianist.

Birnbaum's credentials are impressive. He studied at the New England Conservatory of Music's Preparatory School, graduated from Juilliard's Jazz Studies inaugural class and has won numerous competitions and honors. He has an ability to play in different styles—as in the bop-oriented "Three For One" and "Band Call," the lightly swinging "House Party Starting" or the haunting minor ballad adaptation of Robert Schumann's "Hor Ich Das Liedchen Klingen." But most notable is his reflective, less-is-more rendition of the standard "The Very Thought of You." Birnbaum's writing is varied style-wise as well, but usually features interesting and inventive chord and rhythm changes.

Cassity's writing and playing is featured on his "Those Who Seek," in which he delivers a nicely crafted alto solo. Sanders shows off his lyrical bass style to great advantage on "Kate The Great" and "Three For One." And Green lends punctuation on all of the tracks and a skillfully built drum solo on the up-tempo "Urgency."

Birnbaum has provided an enjoyable travel itinerary, though it would be nice to have more recognizable standard stops on his next recorded musical journey.

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; Sharel Cassity: alto and soprano saxophones; Joe Sanders: bass; Rodney Green: drums.

Title: Travels | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Smalls Records

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