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Bill McBirnie is a Canadian jazz and Latin flutist of exceptional calibre who has garnered excellent critiques - as well as airplay - internationally. 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 web site.
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 (Galway-Flute-Chat)
- “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 the conservatory 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 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 at Jazz.FM91 and on Bob Parlocha's US syndicated jazz program as well as receiving 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 most 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 category. Mercy was also nominated for Best Jazz Album at the international Independent Music Awards in the US.
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 earned a "triple crown" by winning all all three of the U.S.A. National Flute Association’s Jazz Flute (1) Soloist, (2) Masterclass and (3) Big Band Competitions. Bill has also been a longstanding contributor to the Woodwinds column of the Canadian Musician magazine. He was recently appointed a Haynes Artist by the venerable, Wm. S. Haynes company (with a 125-year history of superior flute craftsmanship).