Bill McBirnie & Bruce Jones – Grain of Sand
The Review: Grain of Sand is alternately joyful and plaintive, hypnotic and dreamy—yet consistently incantatory. It will resonate with listeners whose tastes range from samba to ambient, from urban to jazz. It’s a collaboration between Flute player Bill McBrine and Multi-instrumentalist Bruce Jones.
Right from the start I see McBirnie and Jones as a musical force who wrote this entire score and also played Flute and even sings on the project. The album’s tranquil Jazzy atmosphere is intensified by impassioned lyrics and an extremely melodic approach to songwriting. It’s through this chaotic and dynamic world McBirnie and Jones find a path to lead us through. As a listener I can hear conversations between the conscience and the subconscious, sometimes about the love of life at other times about being optimistic about the here and now. To me the album feels like a slow, groovy dream, where you never know what to expect round the next bend. When you wake up, you’re not quite sure of exactly what just happened.’ The closest I could place it would a cross between Ira Sullivan and Bob Downes. Other Musical comparables: James Moody, Charles Lloyd, Tim Weisberg and Nestor Torres.
“Grain of Sand” starts off with amazing title track and “Se Eu Com Voce” an two impressive preludes with dynamic flute via a fusionist Latin-Jazz musical feel. The album shifts gears with Track 3 ”Quandro A Chuva Cai”. Right away you are introduced to the impressive Flute playing virtuoso of McBirnie and the background tidbits offered by Bruce Jones. This is the perfect setting for a hungry and disgruntled Smooth Jazz audience as McBirnie really makes this kind of connection. It’s obvious this music has Jazz roots and will remind you of many of the aforementioned artists. It must be cool to be considered a Latin jazz artist. As the album slowly unfolds you will notice a strong melodically foundation from McBirnie on several tracks like “Vai Bem Devager” and the title track. McBirnie’s playing is painted against a melodic backdrop of sound and touches of plucked keyboard/synth notes and soothing guitar backbone by Jones. All of this layered instrumentation really hits home. It’s a very powerful sounding CD. On tracks like “Motel Ce Que Sabe”, “A Pnote Para Esquina” and “Ce Ta Com Tudo” one will hear flawless musical transitions and impressive finales that will bring you back to the all too familiar Jazz territory. McBirnie fits into this style of music perfectly as he demonstrates remarkable power and control behind the mouthpiece. He also demonstrates great depth as a writer, and he’s superb soloist. As I listened to these songs over and over again, I noticed how fluid all the arrangements were. The whole CD flows so nicely from one moment to the next. The paired loose vocals, percussion, guitar, synth, keyboards and musical accents really mesh well together. Hence McBirnie and Jones mesh well together.
The Bottom Line: “Grain of Sand” by Bill McBirnie & Bruce Jones will work best when you want a peaceful, soothing, tranquil musical catalogue to delicately slip into your soul. All songs could easily be converted into a strictly Jazz type setting with a little work. It’s also obvious to me McBirnie can hold his own within high-end, exotic Fusion Jazz world. However I get the impression this is the music he loves to write and perform.
“Grain of Sand’ by Bill McBirnie & Bruce Jones rounds out an exceptional fourteen track CD and is delivered to us by a driven and very talented player and composer on the forefront: one Bill McBirnie who has definitely has honed his craft over the years.
Purchase Link: https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/billmcbirniebrucejones
– David Swiderski