Jazz CD Reviews

The Bill McBirnie Trio – Find Your Place – Extreme Flute

A nicely-paced album that shows off the band in its best light.

Published on May 26, 2014

The Bill McBirnie Trio – Find Your Place – Extreme Flute

The Bill McBirnie Trio – Find Your Place – Extreme Flute EF 06, 55:56 ****:

(Bill McBirnie – flute; Bernie Senensky – Hammond B-3 organ; Anthony Michelli – drums)

The pairing of a flute with a Hammond B-3 organ could be a risky adventure given the tendency of the power of the organ to blow away anything in its path. However it seems as if Bill McBirnie and Bernie Senensky have found a musical accommodation that works exceedingly well on the release Find Your Place. 

Flutist Bill McBirnie is one of those self-effacing Canadians who, despite abundant talent,  seems to be content to remain a fixture on the Toronto jazz scene.On the other hand Winnipeg-born Bernie Senensky has been a pianist of some renown in both the Canadian and international jazz milieu playing with the likes of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and Rob McConnell’s Boss Brass among others. While the piano is his instrument of choice, he is clearly at home on the Hammond B-3. Drummer Anthony Michelli was born in Hamilton Ontario and has had an active drumming career for over twenty years working with a wide variety of groups and musicians.

It would appear that much thought has gone into the choice of material for this session in order to take advantage of the flute’s trilling character. While “Sister Sadie” might be a bit tricky, yet it does work in its own swinging way. The Cole Porter composition “ So In Love” which was written for the Broadway musical Kiss Me Kate, has a lovely Latin flair and plays into Mc Birnie’s strength  as he takes several inventive solos.

There are a couple of well-worn jazz compositions that stand up to this trio construct and they are Gigi Gryce’s “Minority” and Duke Pearson’s “Jeannine”. In both cases the band has found a solid groove with bop riffs dominating the former tune and a swinging attack on the latter with in the moment solos from McBirnie and Senensky. On “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You?” the band segues into a ballad/bluesy frame with a low-down solo from Senensky that takes full advantage of the organ’s range. The Thelonious Monk composition “Rhythm-A-Ning” is taken at a sprightly pace with several intriguing drum breaks from Michelli and some delightful interplay between McBirnie and Senensky. The final track is the title tune “Find Your Place” an original bossa nova composition from McBirnie and is dedicated to his wife Svetlana and is played with heartfelt emotion.

This is a nicely paced album that shows off the band in its best light.

TrackList: So In Love; Yes Indeed!; Sister Sadie; Oh! Darling; Minority; Estate; Jeannine; Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You; Yes Or No; Soy Califa; Rhythm-A- Ning; Find Your Place

—Pierre Giroux




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