Adam Birnbaum, Doug Weiss & Al Foster | Three of a Mind

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Jazz: Contemporary Jazz Jazz: Piano Jazz Moods: Featuring Piano
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Three of a Mind

by Adam Birnbaum, Doug Weiss & Al Foster

Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Binary
Adam Birnbaum, Doug Weiss & Al Foster
5:26 album only
2. Dream Waltz
Adam Birnbaum, Doug Weiss & Al Foster
7:00 album only
3. Thirty-Three
Adam Birnbaum, Doug Weiss & Al Foster
8:07 album only
4. Brandyn
Adam Birnbaum, Doug Weiss & Al Foster
5:26 album only
5. Rockport Moon
Adam Birnbaum, Doug Weiss & Al Foster
3:45 album only
6. Stutterstep
Adam Birnbaum, Doug Weiss & Al Foster
7:23 album only
7. Kizuna
Adam Birnbaum, Doug Weiss & Al Foster
7:43 album only
8. Dream Song, #1 (Huffy Henry)
Adam Birnbaum, Doug Weiss & Al Foster
5:27 album only
9. Ooh, What You Do to Me
Adam Birnbaum, Doug Weiss & Al Foster
6:59 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Pianist Adam Birnbaum, A Rapidly Ascending Star on the New York City Scene,

Releases Three of A Mind, A Consummately Interactive Trio Session

Featuring His Longtime Employer, Drum Legend Al Foster

“Flawless technique, intuition, superb touch and an adventurous spirit ...”--Kenny Barron

New York City pianist Adam Birnbaum hasn’t been keeping a low profile in recent years. While

touring internationally with drum legend Al Foster’s quartet and subbing regularly in Darcy James

Argue’s Secret Society and with recently minted vocal star Cécile McLorin Salvant he’s also released

several well-received CDs under his own name. Still, his new album Three of A Mind marks a major

leap for the pianist, capturing a working ensemble with enviable chemistry. Slated for release on

February 10, 2015, the trio session is the work of an artist with unimpeachable taste, exquisite touch,

and a commanding vision.

Though Birnbaum is joined by two celebrated rhythm section partners, the album is no ad hoc all-star

session. He and bassist Doug Weiss have spent the past six years together working with Foster, and

the trio’s road-tested cohesion shines on every track. In many ways Birnbaum designed the album to

showcase Foster, a drummer who “embodies true musicianship,” Birnbaum says. “He has huge ears.

He doesn’t just keep time. He actively engages you, creating a constant dialogue. If you can learn to

ride the wave of rhythms he is throwing at you it makes your own ideas sound even hipper.”

A supremely accomplished accompanist, “Weiss is one of the premiere bassists around,” Birnbaum

says. “His sense of taste, rock-solid time, and superb melodicism make him in many ways the perfect

bassist. He doesn’t go for flash, but for true music making, and his ears are always open to going

wherever the music takes him.”

The album opens with Birnbaum’s rock-inflected “Binary,” an irresistibly upbeat tune that he wrote

to slyly draw Foster back to Miles territory. In much the same way, he composed “Dream Waltz”

with the trio in mind. An alluring melody with an uncomplicated song form, the piece facilitates some

beautifully balanced group interplay. The pianist is at his most rhapsodic on the enchanted ballad

“Rockport Moon,” and at his most ambitious on the blues-like “Dream Song # 1: Huffy Henry,” one of

a dozen pieces he composed for a suite inspired by John Berryman’s wildly creative poems.

Though Foster isn’t widely known as a composer, he’s written many memorable tunes, including two

that Birnbaum chose to include on Three of A Mind. Written for Foster’s son, “Brandyn” is a tricky

piece that opens in 12/8 before eventually settling into some sizzling swing. It’s a recognizable but

significantly reimagined version of the piece that Foster introduced back in 1996 as the title track

of his first album as a leader (with Larry Grenadier, Dave Kikoski and Chris Potter). And Foster’s

pleasingly aggressive “Ooh What You Do To Me” closes the album with a satisfying whomp. No fuss,

no muss, this is a trio that takes care of business.

Birnbaum is an award-winning player who has more than lived up to his considerable promise since

graduating from Juilliard as part of the first class of the illustrious conservatory’s jazz program. Born

and raised in Boston, Birnbaum spent his early years studying the European classical tradition. At

13 he got exposed to jazz and turned onto improvisation, and he spent the rest of his teenage years

dividing his attention between the worlds of jazz and classical music.

While studying at Boston College, Birnbaum connected with New England Conservatory’s Danilo

Perez, and the great Panamanian pianist became an important mentor. He graduated from Boston

College with a degree in computer science but spent the bulk of his time practicing piano. The

shedding prepared him for plunging into the New York scene in 2001 via Juilliard, where he was one

of only two pianists selected for inaugural class in the conservatory’s new jazz program. He worked

closely with piano legend Kenny Barron, and later studied with Fred Hersch “who really opened

another world for me,” Birnbaum says.

In 2004 he won the American Jazz Piano Competition and became the American Pianists

Association's Cole Porter fellow in jazz. In 2006, he received the first-ever “special mention” prize

at the Martial Solal Jazz Piano Competition in Paris. More important than any contest was the

call he received from alto sax master Greg Osby, one of jazz’s keenest talent scouts. On the

recommendation of bassist Matt Brewer, Osby hired Birnbaum for a series of gigs starting at Birdland.

His phone started to ring regularly after that.

Over the past decade Birnbaum has performed with veteran masters such as Wallace Roney, Eddie

Henderson, Eddie Gomez, and Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, as well as with well-
established contemporaries such as Pedro Giraudo, Marshall Gilkes and Dominick Farinacci. As a

leader, Birnbaum has released two albums in Japan under the Pony Canyon label in 2006: Ballade

Pour Adeline with Quincy Davis and Matt Brewer (which received a Gold Disk award from Swing

Journal as one of the top albums of the year), and A Comme Amour with Ben Wolfe and Rodney

Green. Smalls Records released his 2009 US debut, Travels, a critically hailed album with Joe

Sanders and Rodney Green.

By far the most significant relationship of his career has been with Al Foster. Miles Davis famously

described his first encounter with Foster saying that the drummer “knocked me out because he

had such a groove and he would just lay it right in there.” Foster went on to spent more time

accompanying the trumpet legend than any other drummer, recording more than a dozen albums

with Davis, from 1972’s hugely controversial On The Corner through his 1981 comeback The Man

With the Horn, and all three career-capping sessions produced by Marcus Miller. Sought out by fellow

masters, he’s also recorded extensively with Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, and McCoy Tyner.

Birnbaum set his sights on Foster’s quartet when he got word that Kevin Hays was leaving the group

in 2009. Not the easiest musician to approach, Foster presented a forbidding front. But after showing

up at various gigs around New York, Birnbaum eventually got the chance to sit in at Smoke (with

a little help from Weiss). He’s been with Foster ever since, while the horn chair has showcased

some of the era’s most potent tenor saxophonists, such as Dayna Stephens and Eric Alexander. For

Birnbaum, the experience has been the ultimate jazz education, “a real connection to another era,” he

says. “These aren’t the kind of lessons you can learn verbally or in a classroom. There’s an intensity

that Al brings whenever he gets behind the drums. He expects something special to happen every

time he plays, and if it’s not happening he’ll be upset with himself and the band. This is not just a way

to make money for him. Music is his life. It means everything to him.” It’s an ethic that Birnbaum has

clearly absorbed, and that manifests itself throughout Three Of A Mind.



to write a review


beautiful album
I ordered this CD a few months ago, and since then I haven't stopped listening to it. It's cool, catchy, complex, and very melodic. So rich, inspirational and uplifting. This could be a great soundtrack, to a movie, or someone's life. I love walking through New York City, watching the people, observing the architecture, while listening to this album. I am getting the other CDs from the same trio, hope they're as good. Exceptional stuff, highly recommended.