Hell's Kitchen Productions - Peter Gilmore 2006
Review of Mark Birnbaum's "Hot Piano!"
Hot Piano! is 77 minutes of joy, with works by Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, Ellington, Scriabin, Debussy, and Birnbaum, among others.
Dr. Mark Birnbaum has wowed audiences in many venues, including his long stint as resident keyboard player for the Joe Franklin Show. He is equally at home in ragtime, jazz, and classical pieces and his own evocative compositions span these genres as well. Now you can savor his mastery forever.
CD Reviews: Mark Birnbaum..Hot Piano..Self Produced 2003 Posted by: Adminon Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 12:00 AM
By John Gilbert
I admire any musical artist that has command of their instrument and
Mark Birnbaum is a prime example of that.
Birnbaum runs the gamut of ragtime, blues, classical and jazz with the
ease of a seasoned performer.
"California Here I Come" rips along like the roadrunner on steroids.
Pure excitement abounds as Mark Birnbaum's flying fingers bring us back
to another time when music was a joy to listen to instead of a chore.
Ragtime reigns supreme.
"Dark Town Strutter's Ball" is a case study in toe tapping rhythm as
Birnbaum struts jauntily through this tune.cocksure and confident.
Another funfilled 2 minutes and thirty six seconds of pianistic
"Tiger Rag" There is no holding this tiger back as the fastest tune this
writer has ever heard is smoked across the keyboard.
Changing gears, Marrk Birnbaum salutes Duke Ellington with
"Sophisticated Lady" and displays an Ellingtonian style which is a
complete departure from the aforementioned modus operandi. This song is
soulfully rendered in Duke's svelte machinations.
Now departure is departure in the true sense as Claude Debussy enters
the picture. Birnbaum's interpretation of "Bergamasque Prelude" allows
this fine pianist to exhibit his formal side to the nth. degree.
Versatility, thy name is Birnbaum.
Visit California Coast Jazz At:
Issue 042 - December 2005 Artist: Mark Birnbaum
JAZZ VIEWS CD REVIEW
Title: Hot Piano! Ragtime, Blues, Jazz, Classical
Mark Birnbaum (solo piano)
Anyone who knows me knows I am not too crazy about solo piano so they hand me a CD of 77 minutes of same to review but, shock, horror! it’s a delight. This is a nicely varied programme and well-played by Mark Birnbaum who is a new name to me but I will look out for him in future. There are two compositions of Scott Joplin, namely ‘Scott Joplin’s New Rag’ and ‘Solace’ which is just about my favourite Joplin piece and is played here with proper love and respect by Mr Birnbaum. No solo piano album would be complete without something by Jelly Roll Morton and here we have no less than six if we count ‘Tiger Rag’ which it gives here as by Morton. The classic side is represented by two compositions by Debussy and two by Alexander Scriabin, one of which is ‘The Funeral March’. Music for all occasions? He also plays Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ which comes in at over nine minutes and I am sure the composer would have approved this version. Novelty ragtime is represented by Zez Confrey’s ‘Kitten on the Keys’ and Tin Pan Alley by ‘Darktown Strutters Ball’, ‘Sheik of Araby’ and ‘My Blue Heaven’. There is also Duke Ellington’s ’Sophisticated Lady’ and something by Harold Arlen called ‘Trickeration’. The set is completed by four original compositions by Mark Birnbaum none of which really sets the woods on fire. A mixed bag then of which I feel that Morton and Joplin numbers come off best – but that could be me showing my age. Finally, mention of Scott Joplin enables me to put in a plug for the Scott Joplin House in St. Louis. It is a little off the tourist track but is well worth a visit.
RECENT CD REVIEW 2004
CD - 'Hot Piano!' - Mark Birnbaum
by Mary Rudy
Now for those of you whom have longed for some piano ragtime music, don't look any further Mark Birnbaum has it all and gives his all. This is a recording artist who got it right!!! Pure ragtime perfection! It doesn't matter if you like ragtime rock, ragtime jazz or ragtime blues. Birnbaum has what everyone wants.
Mark Birnbaum definitely lives up faithfully to any criteria that piano ragtime may have. In that regard Hot Piano is pure ragtime perfection! it has it all: the opening key riff, above all else the clarity of the piano tone punching through the wall of sound on all parts is like sweetness to your ears. The best part of this cd is that it has a solid sense of a carefully thought out arrangement and melody that would make Mozart proud, a purposeful sense of forward motion and building intensity that will sustain your interest. It's all THERE, It's all DONE RIGHT, and It's ALL GOOD.
What was most impressive about this CD is Mark's sense of restraint, something so rare in musicians, rather or not they are self proclaimed artists, as many lack and have no understanding of it, some not knowing how to actually use it. Mark knows when to let the piano thunder roar and when to let the lightning gracefully sparkle down from heaven.
A ragtime player capable of calling down thunder and lightning from the heavens to strike the corpse of Mozart, bring it to life and draw forth the technical expertise from his soul and still have enough lightning left over to zap the listeners to get their attention, is quite deserving of all the attention in the world. And for that Mark wins our unconditional MAKE MORE!!!! Stamp of approval and make sure we are the first to know when the CD comes out. The rest of you pianists out there pull up a chair, grab yourself an mp3 player, listen to Mark and take notes, this is how it is done.
BOTTOM LINE: Highest Caliber of Talent.....Musicianship that doesn't get any better.....Music to capture your heart and soul......and messages in each song that can be identified by someone - somewhere at anytime....Make sure to visit Mark Birnbaum's Website www.ragtimemarkbirnbaum.com
EuroClubdeJazz RECENT CD REVIEW 2004
Artist :: Mark Birnbaum
Album :: Hot Piano
Year :: 2004
Label :: MJB
Review by :: Brian Harvey
Mark Birnbaum is an accomplished pianist with a mastery of a variety of styles that should ensure that he's never out of work! Within this twenty-two track 76 minute, excellent value CD he covers just about every pianistic discipline in most enjoyable style but occasionally tends to rush his tempos.
This however doesn't spoil the overall enjoyment which comes in the main from his deep feeling for many of the compositions he essays and in particular from tunes like 'Buddy Bolden's Blues' and Scott Joplin's wonderful 'Solace'. In other words he excels on the jazzier tunes. Indeed - where Birnbaum has an obvious affinity for the composition and composer his renderings are delightful and worthy of repeated hearings.
As a sampler try any of the Jelly Roll Morton compositions like 'Shreveport Stomp', 'Kansas City Stomp' or 'King Porter Stomp' - the latter made famous by the Fletcher Henderson and Benny Goodman Orchestras.
About the artist:Mark Birnbaum
Born in Geneva (Switzerland), raised in Brooklyn, educated in New York City with a Doctorate in Music Composition from Columbia University, Mark Birnbaum composed and directed the successful off- Broadway show, "A Day Together," which was funded by the Helena Rubenstein foundation and performed in the five boroughs of New York City in 1983-84.
Dr. Birnbaum was featured as the staff pianist of television's nationally syndicated "Joe Franklin Show" (WWOR-TV, Channel 9 NY), where he appeared over 500 times from 1989-93.
At Manhattan's 13th Street Theater (he just wrapped up the weekly show "Hot Piano! Ragtime Blues and Jazz" - five months running), Dr. Birnbaum starred in several one man shows that he wrote, "Ragtime '94" and "Ragtime '96," that salute the music of Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton and the glory of ragtime and jazz piano.
Dr. Birnbaum has been touring regionally in the New York City Metropolitan area, where he performs regularly throughout the five boroughs, Long Island and New Jersey.
In addition, his 5th CD, “Jelly Roll Morton’s Missing New Orleans” is due out April 10th, 2006.
"Classically trained with a doctorate in music from Columbia University,Mark Birnbaum graduated into keeping ragtime alive and serving as staff pianist on the popular Joe Franklin television show. This Manhattan based pianist can play everything, and continues to do so throughout the greater New York area."
*Edward Jablonski, 2003, Official Biographer of Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Harold Arlen.
"As anyone who's caught one of his several hundred appearances on Joe Franklin's television show will know, Mark Birnbaum (who has a Ph.D. from Columbia) is the ragtime piano specialist. He knows all of the classical rags by Scott Joplin, Eubie Blake, Jelly Roll Morton - he can take any song you name (from "Sh-Boom" to "Amazing Grace") and convert it to ragtime."
*Chip Deffaa, The New York Post, September 2, 1994
"Mark Birnbaum is ' Mr. Ragtime,' the piano entertainer for the 21st Century. He's Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton and Liberace rolled into one."