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Old Nov 14, 2005, 07:26 PM
Bill McBirnie Bill McBirnie is offline
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(Long!) Bill McBirnie - New CD Release - Jazz Flutist

Here is a new CD release that will be of interest to flute players! (I've set out a fair amount of info below, including a couple of early reviews, so it's a bit long!)

The Bill McBirnie Duo/Quartet
(Featuring Bernie Senensky, Neil Swainson & John Sumner)
"Paco Paco"

After contributing as a sideman to a wide range of recordings (including works by Junior Mance, Memo Acevedo, Irakere, Cache as well as his own earlier Extreme Flute projects), flutist Bill McBirnie swings and sparkles once again in a straight-ahead acoustic jazz setting.

This recording sets Bill alongside one of Canada’s foremost jazz pianists, Bernie Senensky, as well as a consummate rhythm section which is rounded out by the impeccable Neil Swainson on bass and a steadfast John Sumner on drums.

The album consists of a solid combination of standard jazz repertoire (including the cunning and crafty title track which was written by Bernie Senensky) yielding a balanced mix of duo and quartet outings, all of which are executed with a relaxed and “blowing session” like ease. The result is a CD with genuine “drop-the-needle-anywhere” charm.

The content of the album is listed below:

(1) Like Sonny (J. Coltrane) 5:43
(2) Hackensack (T. Monk) 4:53
(3) Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus (Duffield/Webb) 6:32
(4) Doxy (S. Rollins) 4:46
(5) Bright Mississippi (T. Monk) 5:29
(6) My Song (K. Jarrett) 5:50
(7) Paco Paco (B. Senensky) 4:23
(8) East Of The Sun (B. Bowman) 4:00
(9) This I Dig Of You (H. Mobley) 4:21
(10) Hackensack (T. Monk) (reprise) 4:54
(11) The Great City (C. Lewis) 6:38
(12) O Grande Amor (Jobim/de Moraes) 6:29


The CD is available at major retailers and through the distributor, Indie Pool. To order by mail, phone or secure e-commerce (including international orders), please contact:

Indie Pool Canada
118 Berkeley Street
Toronto, Ontario
M5A 2W9

1-888-88-INDIE (1-888-884-6343) toll-free


Bill McBirnie is a jazz and Latin flute specialist based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has studied with distinguished Canadian flutist and composer, Robert Aitken, and Cuban Charanga legend, Richard Eques. Bill is known for his superior technique on the entire family of flutes (from bass flute to piccolo). He is also recognized as an accomplished improviser, notably in the bebop, swing and Latin idioms as illustrated by his recordings as a sideman with Junior Mance, Irakere, Memo Acevedo and Cache.

Bill has produced two of his own EXTREME FLUTE projects and, more recently, a straight-ahead acoustic jazz recording under his own name featuring The Mark Eisenman Trio entitled, "Nature Boy" (which attained the No. 4 spot in Jazz.FM91's Top 40 international line-up for 2003 in Canada as well as being in the spin-cycle of Bob Parlocha’s syndicated jazz program in the US). Needless to say, “Nature Boy” has garnered consistently excellent reviews internationally—in Canada, the US, Britain, Holland and France. Some sample comments on Bill’s flute work follow:

“A distinguished flutist with a devotion that shows up in the airy sweetness of his sound at ballad tempos and in the remarkable control he can bring to rapid-fire, skittering runs on up tempo, Coltrane-inspired material.” (Stuart Broomer, Editor, Coda magazine)

"McBirnie has always handled bop exceptionally well. You can hear his years at the conservatory in his sound—a pure, transparent tone at rest, brightening with exertion—yet he swings like someone who grew up with a large collection of Blue Note and Prestige LPs down in the basement. He's entirely idiomatic, but also effortlessly inventive.” (Mark Miller, The Globe and Mail)

“...All beautifully recorded, unclassifiable, and virtually timeless...” (Michael Steinman, Cadence Magazine)

Bill has also been chosen Flutist of the Year by the Jazz Report Awards, nominated as Miscellaneous Instrumentalist of the Year at the National Jazz Awards as well as being declared a winner of the U.S.A. National Flute Association’s triennial Jazz Flute Masterclass Competition.

Web Links:

For Samples -
For Orders -

Toronto Star
Arts & Entertainment, What’s On Disc
November 10, 2005

Bill McBirnie has a powerful claim to be Canada’s best player on flute, underlined by his indie CD, Paco Paco, recorded in August and just hitting the stores. Its dozen songs feature the leader in duets with pianist Bernie Senensky who offers ingenious improvisations to stride backing on quartets with bassist Neil Swainson and drummer John Sumner. The leader favours jazz anthems such as Monk’s “Hackensack” (done twice as a twosome) and Sonny Rollins’ “Doxy”. His balladic flair is everywhere and notably on Keith Jarrett’s “My Song”. He negotiates the slippery Senensky title tune with ease and dips into gospel and Latin as well. What always stands out is his outstanding tone, agile technique and fecund imagination. (Geoff Chapman) It's been a while since we've listened to a great flute player—and Bill is incredible. Check it out!!!

Paco Paco
The Bill McBirnie Duo/Quartet | Extreme Flute
Track Listing: Like Sonny; Hackensack; Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus; Doxy; Bright Mississippi; My Song; Paco Paco; East of the Sun; This I Dig of You; Hackensack (reprise); The Great City; O Grande Amor. Personnel: Bill McBirnie: flute; Bernie Senensky: piano; Neil Swainson: bass; John Sumner: drums. Style: Mainstream Review Published: November 13, 2005

By Jerry D'Souza,

Include Bill McBirnie as an integral player in Canadian jazz. The Toronto-based flautist has marked his credentials through recordings of his own, in addition to appearances on albums by Junior Mance, Memo Acavedo, and Irakere; jam sessions at the Colored Musicians Club of Buffalo; and appearances with Herbie Mann, Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey.

Listening to McBirnie makes his credentials clear. He dips into the nectar of a melody and his dulcet tones rise to trigger the core of his imagination for some really interesting improvisational flights. These facets are abundantly manifest on Paco Paco.

The music of John Coltrane has a special attraction for McBirnie. The snap this quartet brings into “Like Sonny” is fuelled by the whorls and dips of the flute that fall neatly into place as well as the quick trajectories that bring in an edginess which gives the pulse an extra tick. Another flavor that characterizes McBirnie's music is Latin jazz. His version of “O Grande Amor” has a thick streak of emotion, the swell of the flute encapsulating the passion.

Bernie Senensky is a perfect cohort, his sense of harmony and invention adding to the pith. Senensky wrote the title tune, on which he scoots off and then lures McBirnie, the beat hot before it settles into a Brazilian groove with Senensky bringing in a bright tempo egged on by drummer John Sumner. McBirnie then gets his own, extending ideas in a delightful swirl.

McBirnie's sense of arrangement must be acknowledged. It comes across strikingly on “Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus.” The first minute is a sweet intonation of the melody by McBirnie before it turns to a march beat with Senensky, Sumner, and Neil Swainson journeying on, helmed by the pianist whose constant forge is change. A side step into New Orleans, a swish of swing, and then back to a march as McBirnie gets the swagger and the action. A true delight by any means!
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