Bill McBirnie is a jazz and Latin flute specialist based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has studied with renowned American flutist, Samuel Baron, distinguished Canadian flutist and composer, Robert Aitken, as well as Cuban charanga legend, Richard Egues. Bill’s extraordinary level of skill as a flutist also prompted a personal solicitation from no less than Sir James Galway to serve as his Resident Jazz Flute Specialist at Sir James' official website.
Bill is well known for his outstanding technique. However, he is also recognized as an exceptional improviser (notably in the bebop, swing and Latin idioms) as demonstrated by his numerous recordings as a sideman with the likes of Junior Mance, Irakere, Memo Acevedo and Emilie-Claire Barlow. Needless to say, Bill has performed and recorded extensively with Toronto's finest musicians and has been a longstanding charter member of Bernie Senensky's Moe Koffman Tribute Band.
Here are a few illustrative comments regarding Bill's work:
- "Dear Maestro McBirnie, ...This just blew me away. Great, great playing..Innovative... I have never heard anyone play like this...Great technique and music making. The scales are so even it sounds like he wrote the Taffanel scale book...Bill, when you read this, I have to take my hat off to you. This is great playing by any standard." SIR JAMES GALWAY (Yahoo, Sir James Galway Flute Chat, Message #507, Dec. 25, 2005)
- "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)
- "A distinguished flutist with a devotion that shows up in the airy sweetness of his sound at ballad tempos and in the remarkable control he can bring to rapid-fire, skittering runs on up tempo, Coltrane-inspired material." STUART BROOMER (Editor, Coda magazine)
- "McBirnie has always handled bop exceptionally well. You can hear his years at theconservatory in his sound, a pure, transparent tone at rest, brightening with exertion, yet he swings like someone who grew up with a large collection of Blue Note and Prestige LPs down in the basement. He's entirely idiomatic, but also effortlessly inventive." MARK MILLER (The Globe and Mail)
- "...All beautifully recorded, unclassifiable, and virtually timeless..." MICHAEL STEINMAN (Cadence Magazine)
Bill has produced two Extreme Flute projects, Desvio and Scratch It!, as well as two straight-ahead acoustic jazz recordings under his own name entitled Nature Boy (featuring The Mark Eisenman Trio) and Paco Paco (featuring pianist, Bernie Senensky). Both of these latter albums have attained Top 40 spots on Jazz.FM91 and Bob Parlocha's US syndicated jazz program as well as recurring air-play in their respective spin cycles. Both albums have also garnered consistently excellent reviews internationally, in Canada, the USA, Britain, Australia, France, Holland and Spain. Bill's recent release, Mercy (featuring Romani piano sensation, Robi Botos), has been receiving, yet again, uniformly outstanding reviews throughout North America, Europe and Australia and has also garnered the 2010 Toronto Independent Music Award (TIMA) in the Best Jazz Album category.
In addition, Bill was chosen Flutist of the Year by the Jazz Report Awards, nominated as Miscellaneous Instrumentalist of the Year at the National Jazz Awards and was a winner in all three of the U.S.A. National Flute Association’s jazz flute (1) Soloist, (2) Masterclass and (3) Big Band Competitions (and Bill is the only jazz flutist ever to have obtained this "triple crown" distinction at the NFA).
Finally, Bill has been a longstanding teacher, clinician and contributor to the Woodwinds column of the Canadian Musician magazine.
Bill McBirnie has achieved something decidedly unlikely for a Canadian flute player, raised in the small town of Port Colborne, Ontario.
Despite a rather unremarkable musical beginning, he has succeeded in attaining an international standing as one of today's foremost jazz flutists, all while rarely setting foot outside of his native city of Toronto, Ontario.
What has made his slow but steady progress possible has been a long and diligent study of both jazz and classical techniques which Bill combined with a patient determination to make the flute sound natural and convincing in non-classical contexts.
Bill's longstanding commitment to the instrument has earned him consistently unequivocal acclaim and awards, both here in Canada and abroad; including Flutist of the Year (Jazz Report Awards), a "triple crown" winner in all three of the Jazz Flute (1) Soloist, (2) Masterclass and (3) Big Band Competitions (National Flute Association in the USA), Best Jazz Album (Toronto Independent Music Awards) and nomination for Best Jazz Album (Independent Music Awards in the USA).
As a testimony to his noteworthy place in the international flute community, Bill was solicited personally by the esteemed classical flutist, Sir James Galway, to serve as his resident Jazz Flute Specialist at Sir James' official website.
COMPLETE AUDIO CLIPS
Here are the links to just a few full audio clips from each of Bill's latest acoustic albums:
(1) “Poinciana” (from Nature Boy) - about 10 minutes - Click here (2) “Like Sonny” (from Paco Paco) - about 6 minutes - Click here (3) “Willow Weep For Me” (from Mercy) - about 6 minutes - Click here (4) "Minority" (from Find Your Place) - about 4 minutes - Click here
DISCOGRAPHY & SAMPLE TRACKS
- GRAIN OF SAND (Bill McBirnie & Bruce Jones) - 2015
- FIND YOUR PLACE (with Bernie Senensky) - 2014
- MERCY (with Robi Botos) - 2010
- PACO PACO (with Bernie Senensky) - 2006
- NATURE BOY (with Mark Eisenman) - 2003
- SCRATCH IT! Extreme Flute - 2002
- DESVIO Extreme Flute (with Bruce Jones) - 1998
You can also hear complete sample tracks from these releases at MySpace by simply clicking here.