Ambient, dynamic, charming,
engaging. Those words can describe Three of a Mind (Daedelus
Records, 2015) by pianist Adam Birnbaum. It’s a trio session for one of
the rising stars on the New York jazz scene.
With Birnbaum are Doug Weiss on bass and Al Foster on drums.
“Binary,” one of six Birnbaum originals, is a bright, upbeat song. The
leader plays freely throughout. Underneath, Foster enjoys mixing it up
with rolls here, shuffles there, and Weiss is firmly engaged. About
midway through, things get intense when the piano cranks up the heat,
and the other instruments follow suit.
“Stutterstep” is one of the longer pieces, giving the trio plenty of
space to stretch out. Weiss takes advantage of the opportunity with an
extended solo. Hearing those strings snap is almost as enjoyable as the
notes they make. Foster gets to lick his chops plenty as well. Even when
playing behind Birnbaum, Weiss and Foster make their presence felt.
Birnbaum won the 2004 American Jazz Piano Competition and became the
American Pianists Association’s Cole Porter fellow in jazz. He has
performed with such icons as Wallace Roney, Eddie Gomez, Wynton Marsalis
and others. Birnbaum became associated with Foster when Kevin Hays left
the drummer’s quartet in 2009. Weiss is also a member of that quartet.
Three of a Mind reflects, in both title and sound, the cohesion
that these three musicians share.