WBGO Radar

Adam Birnbaum: "Three Of A Mind"

adam birnbaum CD three of a mind

In the right hands, a jazz piano can be a language of a thousand dialects.

In America, we've always been attracted to these 88 keys - unlocking the souls of both player and listener. No wonder - the piano was the first item in this country one could buy on time.

Over time in jazz, we've heard the shuddering talent of Tatum, the whimsy of Waller, been sanctified by Silver, gleaned pleasure from anything Evans, Corea, Ellington, Basie or Hancock.

Each one of these and other piano masters would reach back and pay forward that which keeps the jazz piano always fresh in our minds.

Of Adam Birnbaum, pianist Kenny Barron says, "Adam is a rare combination of flawless technique, intuition, superb touch and adventurous spirit!"

It's all here on Adam's new CD Three Of A Mind, a trio outing with bassist Doug Weiss and legendary drummer Al Foster.

Adam's new release shows a versatility that explains why the pianist can play with the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, Pepper Adams, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Greg Osby, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society or in the working band of Al Foster, who not only returns the favor but contributes two compositions on this release.

The opener, "Binary" is much more than ones and zeros. Birnbaum wrote this uptempo mover to subtly move Foster back to his Miles Davis days.

On playing with the drummer ,Adam says, "He doesn't just keep time, he actively engages you with constant dialogue, his waves of rhythm making your own ideas even hipper."

Another Birnbaum original, "Dream Waltz," shows off the balanced interplay of this trio and the 6-year, road-tested synergy of Birbaum and Weiss in Foster's band.

Foster's "Brandyn," written for his son, follows a 12/8 opening to some all out, all-for-one swinging.

"Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so." These words and more by poet John Berryman were the inspiration for Adam's "Dream Songs," a suite excerpted here with "Dream Song # 1: Huffy Henry," a bluesy dream drenched piece which carries you along before you realize you've climbed aboard.

Adam Birnbaum. Doug Weiss. Al Foster. Three of a kind, coming together to make interesting and engaging music. Three Of A Mind comes out February 10th.

A CD celebration performance happens February 11th at Smoke in New York.

  - Gary Walker, WBGO music director

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