The Bill McBirnie Duo/Quartet | Mercy

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Jazz: Contemporary Jazz Latin: Brazilian Jazz Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Mercy

by The Bill McBirnie Duo/Quartet

This is an amazing combination of "flute-and-piano" duo and "flute-plus-rhythm-section" quartet tracks that are performed with incredible - but genuinely swinging - virtuosity. This is unquestionably jazz and Latin flute playing at its best.
Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Baila Cinderella
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4:32 $0.99
2. Willow Weep For Me
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6:04 $0.99
3. Airegin
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4:42 $0.99
4. Stuffy Turkey
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6:13 $0.99
5. Gentle Rain
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4:54 $0.99
6. I'm Walkin'
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5:23 $0.99
7. Yardbird Suite
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4:46 $0.99
8. Way Down Yonder In New Orleans
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3:18 $0.99
9. Moment's Notice
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4:18 $0.99
10. Minha Saudade
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6:01 $0.99
11. Groovin' High
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3:59 $0.99
12. Mercy
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5:45 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Following up on his two previously acclaimed acoustic projects—Nature Boy with Mark Eisenman and Paco Paco with Bernie Senensky—“extreme flutist”, Bill McBirnie, comes out swinging and scintillating once again with yet another exceptional acoustic release, Mercy.

On Mercy, Bill joins forces with Romani piano sensation, Robi Botos, for a series of duos. For the remaining quartet tracks, Bill combines Robi with a steadfast rhythm section consisting of the sure-footed Pat Collins on bass and the rock-solid John Sumner on drums.

Mercy presents a diverse—as well as gratifying—mix of both duo and quartet tracks that run the gamut from bebop (“Yardbird Suite”) to bossa nova (“Gentle Rain”) right through to Dixieland (“Way Down Yonder in New Orleans”). In addition to the more standard fare is the title track, “Mercy”, a poignant rhapsody written by pianist, Robi Botos.

In keeping with Bill’s previous two Extreme Flute releases, Mercy remains faithful to the spontaneous and down-to-earth qualities of a blowing session resulting in another album with real “drop-the-needle-anywhere” charm and allure.

The album clocks in at precisely 60:00 minutes and, in so doing, provides one hour of absolutely great listening!

CREDITS:

Bill McBirnie – Flute
Robi Botos – Piano
Pat Collins – Bass
John Sumner – Drums
Produced by Bill McBirnie
Co-Produced by Pacy Shulman
Engineered, Mixed & Mastered by Pacy Shulman at Hilo Studio
Graphic Design by Staci Patten of Accurate Audio
Photography by Greg King
[ Note: Bill plays a vintage Wm. S. Haynes flute with a Robert Bigio crown and stopper. ]

LINER NOTES:

On my previous two acoustic projects, I have had the good fortune to work with two of the finest jazz pianists in this country—indeed, anywhere—namely, Mark Eisenman on Nature Boy and Bernie Senensky on Paco Paco. Evidently, my good fortune with world-class pianists has yet to come to an end because, for this acoustic project, I teamed up with a relatively new but undeniably formidable talent—the remarkable Romani pianist, Robi Botos.

Not everyone knows about Robi—but certainly more and more are finding out about him. I have known Robi since 1998 when he first immigrated to Canada from Hungary. On the rare occasions we have played together—most were long ago as a duo at the former Rhodes Restaurant shortly after Robi’s arrival in Canada—both of us inevitably agreed that, at some point, we simply had to record together. However, I can safely say that neither of us ever thought it would take us ten years to get around to doing so.

For those of you who are not familiar with Robi, you will soon learn that he is something of a prodigy. For those of you who are already familiar with his work, you will be entirely aware of Robi’s full-blown mastery—both in terms of the instrument and the idiom—a mastery which he seems to have realized as the result of a rare gift as well as a deep dedication to his craft.

As I indicated earlier, this recording forms part of what is an ongoing personal “acoustic jazz series”. Like its two predecessors (i.e., Nature Boy and Paco Paco), the Mercy sessions were recorded over a two-day interval utilizing a quartet format one day and a duo format the next. For the initial quartet session, I combined Robi with two of my favourite rhythm section players here in Toronto; namely, Pat Collins on bass (who, in my view, has never been exploited sufficiently—either live or on record) and John Sumner on drums (who is yet another woefully underutilized resource with an equally strong and infallible sense of time). To Robi, Pat and John, I offer my sincere gratitude for delivering such coherent performances in just two short recording sessions—and despite having never played (much less rehearsed) together before.

I am also pleased to introduce Pacy Shulman of Hilo Studio on this project who engineered, mixed and mastered the album. Pacy maintained a steady hand at the board as well as a cool and attentive head during the mildly chaotic nature of these blowing sessions. Furthermore, his technical sixth sense was as often mystifying as it was an enormous aid to me throughout the entire process.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to dedicate the opening two tracks on this recording to the two jazz flutists who have undoubtedly exerted the greatest influence on me over the years. The first, "Baila Cinderella", is dedicated to Hubert Laws who has always struck me with his impeccable technique and musical taste. The second, "Willow Weep for Me", is dedicated to Jeremy Steig whose hard-hitting debut recording, Flute Fever, continues to spin on my platter after more than 45 years from the date of its original release.

In conclusion, I would like to dedicate what is the closing and title track, "Mercy" (a beautiful rhapsody composed by Robi Botos), to my wife, Svetlana, who is—and will remain—my soul to love—and who said to me, in utter astonishment, after the very first set of my first duo gig with Robi Botos at Rhodes Restaurant ten years ago, “Billy, you really must do a recording with this boy, Robi!”...So here it is, Honey Pie!...

Bill McBirnie

Acknowlegments: I would like to thank Canada’s premier jazz station, Jazz.FM91, for their continuing and ongoing support of this music (...not to mention mine along the way... :-) and, in addition, Bob Parlocha, Sir James Galway, Robert Aitken, William Hoare, Frank Falco, Memo Acevedo, Louis Simao and, more recently, Ruben Diaz.


Reviews


to write a review

Jewel

Excellent!
Great talent! Really enjoyed all tracks but my favorites are Gentle Rain, Moments Notice, and Mercy!

Pat Collins

Fantastic
Fantastic!

Leonid Auskern, Jazz Quad (Nestor Publishing, Russia)

Now a renowned master of jazz flute
Bill McBirnie, the renowned master of jazz flute from Canada, demonstrates in his new album, Mercy, that the flute is in the hands of a virtuoso who, beyond any doubt, is able to perform in virtually any style...One of my two favourites on the album is the utterly inspiring duo version of the classic, “Yardbird Suite”, written by Charlie Parker. (I will say more about my second favourite later.) A most noteworthy performer is pianist, Robi Botos, a Hungarian gipsy who is now living in Canada. It is no accident that the cover of the album itself underscores Robi's contribution. Indeed, the role and impact that this bright young pianist brings to the entire project cannot be overstated. His style and technique is unmistakably reminiscent of the unforgettable Oscar Peterson and so the duos with just Robi and Bill are, for me, highlights of the album...The last cut (the title track which was composed by Robi Botos) is my second favourite piece. The feeling of this heartbreaking rhapsody appears melancholy at first – but there is such heartfelt and sweet sorrow in this piece that it makes you want to submerge yourself in it – over and over again.

Tom Deecy, NYC

Flabbergasted
I don't know what to say. I just discovered your jazz work on YouTube and I have to tell you, along with many others I'm sure, that I am flabbergasted. I have never heard jazz flute approached the way you do. It is the kind of playing that gives amateur flutists dreams of glory. You make our expectations of what jazz flute should sound like absolutely passé. Bravissimo!

Geoff Chapman (The WholeNote)

A Dozen Track Feast
The country’s top flutist, Bill McBirnie, releases Mercy, a dozen-track, dazzling display of technique, dynamic range and stunning musicality with numerous genre forays - bossa, ballads, bop and more. However, this is not neo-jazz comfort food but rather a feast of elegantly executed ideas with a live concert vibe. Highlights abound including the emotion dredged from Willow Weep For Me, the florid flute-piano onslaught on Airegin, the wit in Monk’s rarely heard Stuffy Turkey, and a brilliant re-imagining of Coltrane’s Moment’s Notice. Add quick-witted interplay, adventurous flow, bluster and sophistication and this disc’s a keeper.

Alan K

Get this album! Now.
I have been a fan of many of the long list of jazz flutists (Herbie Mann, Eric Dolphy, Jeremy Steig, Hubert Laws to name a few). And as an adult amateur with classical training, I have been a fan of Jean Pierre-Rampal, William Kincaid, Mathhew Dufour, and many others.

Bill brings his own special style and skill that is his own. How wonderful to carve out a distinctive sound and style in a field full of remarkable flutists.

I guess I really internalized that Bill's technical and improvisational techniques are first rate when listening to earlier recordings.

After my first listen to Mercy, I am impressed with how Bill uses tone colors so well. Of course none of his technical skill is missing, and he has probably always brought such a fine pallette of tone colors to the music, but this time it was his tone that grabbed me. Sure, I tapped to the great rythyms and almost cryed at the most soulful melodic. Some jazz flutists bring a classical range of tones, some bring what I would call the "Mann tone". Bill uses a wide range of tone colors that I find impressive and extremely well-done.

I wish we could get Bill on tour. Maybe we can work on that. Until he comes to a town near year you, buy this album. Bill is quietly and unassumingly taking his place among the best.

(Various)

Reaction to Mercy
“I have been listening to your record, non-stop, for the past two days and I can only say, it is AMAZING...Fantastic!...” SIR JAMES GALWAY (December 2009)

“Clean, pure, bebop flute played with disgusting control and shameless ease. You are a bad boy! And then Robi Botos. That guy is a killer!” HENDRIK MEURKENS (December 2009)

“In both duo and quartet formats, McBirnie dazzles...In every instance, his technique is flawless, dynamic and often simply jaw-dropping...McBirnie has been called Canada’s standout jazz flautist. I maintain he is one of the top two or three in the world. “ MARK E. GALLO (JazzReview.com)

“If you are not already aware of McBirnie, then from the very first note, you will hear that he is a remarkable craftsman...This is flute playing that is a pure joy to hear – from the first to the nth repetition...[T]he simultaneous improvising by McBirnie and Botos is astounding...McBirnie chooses excellent repertoire which he then proceeds to execute with perfect tone, style and empathy...An absolutely fantastic recording” KORNILIOS DIAMANTOPOULOS (Jazz & Tzaz, The Hellenic Jazz Magazine)

"Mercy offers a dozen-track, dazzling display of technique, dynamic range and stunning musicality...This is not neo-jazz comfort food but rather a feast of elegantly executed ideas with a live concert vibe...Add quick-witted interplay, adventurous flow, bluster and sophistication and this disc is a keeper." GEOFF CHAPMAN (WholeNote Magazine)

"A diverse selection of sparkling contemporary jazz that commands serious attention...An amazing performance..." EDWARD BLANCO (ejazznews.com)

"McBirnie's explorations are luminous as he makes each note glow...the shades and the contrasts as transparent as the emotion and the verve...So, with each track carving its own beguiling niche, the music is, to put it quite simply, awesome!" JERRY D'SOUZA (AllAboutJazz.com)

"...Effortless rhythmic note placement…fleet and inspired…weaving creative, satisfying, constantly developing melodic lines in masterly fashion…Both the duo and quartet delight and surprise…Mercy is yet another classic hour of top jazz flute in the McBirnie acoustic tradition." JIM LANGABEER (Flute Focus, Australia)

"This new album of Bill's demonstrates that the flute is in the hands of a virtuoso who, beyond any doubt, is able to perform in virtually any style...and it is no accident that the cover of the album itself underscores the contribution of pianist, Robi Botos. The role and impact that this bright young pianist brings to the entire project cannot be overstated. His style and technique is unmistakably reminiscent of the unforgettable Oscar Peterson, so the duos - with just Robi and Bill - are, for me, highlights of the album." LEONID AUSKERN (Jazz Quad, Nestor Publishing, Russia)

"McBirnie is the record's hero. In an unassuming manner, he has recast the way the flute is played. His breathing is easy and sustained and his control is complete. Moreover, he is genuinely one of the most creative flutists...Mercy is a true gem... RAUL D'GAMA (AAJ Senior Editor)

"Bill McBirnie’s new recording, Mercy, has been receiving impressive reviews. I have long regarded Bill as the finest flautist in Canada and his recent CD simply confirms my opinion. Whatever groove he decides to play in, it's perfection. A true technician and master of his instrument." DAVE MILBOURNE (Toronto Jazz)

"There are both hard swinging and tender moments with alternate stops in between in this varied program...A gale force wind from the Great White North..." IRA GITLER (Apple Chorus, Jazz Inside NY, February 2010)

"Mercy, is a true gem...It is mostly McBirnie who takes a stellar turn throughout sharing the spotlight with Robi Botos who is also flawless." RAUL D'GAMA ROSE (Senior Editor, AAJ)

"The diversity in styles, from trad jazz to Latin, does not in any way affect the unity of the recording's theme but creates a unique multifaceted whole thanks to McBirnie's versatility and superlative musicianship...McBirnie swings hard during the up-tempo pieces and shows remarkable sensitivity without losing the creative edge during the duets and ballads with Botos." HRAYR ATTARIAN (AllThatJazz.com)