Bill McBirnie and Bernie Senensky team up for “The Silent Wish”

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There’s always going to be a big market for music teachers in every corner of the world, and while I’m not trying to say that some people are incapable of learning music as a concept and as a means of expression, very few will ever be able to produce what Bill McBirnie and Bernie Senensky have in The Silent Wish, the new collaborative album they’re releasing this year. Rooted in McBirnie’s jazz flute stylings and chock full of surprises, this is the album that fans of both artists have been waiting for, and it will impress both quite adequately. I had the chance to give it a spin ahead of its release and was completely taken aback by the talent I was privy to.

In the song “No Moon At All,” we get an idea of what happens when jazz’s underground starts working together instead of fighting and debating each other’s relevancy. The magic that ensues as soon as the band commences in syncopated rhythm is awe inspiring and representative of a watershed moment for the jazz community of the 2010s, which has been less than unified to put it mildly. This is one of my favorite songs of the entire year, and by itself could serve as an excellent intro track for novice music fans curious about jazz.

There’s no set boundaries that separate one track from the next in The Silent Wish; only a shift in mood and tempo. The tension is gradually built up through the first half of the album before shattering under the pressure of McBirnie’s leering flute cries. Senensky isn’t to be outdone though, and both of the men put on an awesome show trying to outperform one another in a jazzy shootout fit for the roaring 20’s. Who knows; music like this could provoke another golden age for this genre and those it’s influenced.

Bill McBirnie is unquestionably the most gifted flutist of his generation, and he and the backing band have no difficulty utilizing the spacious design of the songs The Silent Wish fires in our direction. McBirnie is the reason why I laugh at my colleagues when they call Kenny G a scene legend – Kenny G never cut a record as audaciously fierce as The Silent Wish, half because he didn’t have the charisma and half because he didn’t have the skillset. This is real pop boss nova at its cleanest and most untainted, and you won’t find it adorning a Starbucks commercial.

Young jazz musicians could stand to learn an awful lot from The Silent Wish and the two masterminds behind its conception. There’s never been a time in the history of recorded music where there have been less role models for aspiring songwriters than there are now, and I believe Bill McBirnie and Bernie Senensky to be credible figures that musicians of all abilities and genres can look to for direction. Their style is their own and their branding unaffected by the industrial dictators. If every artist stayed as loyal to their creative ethics as these guys have, pop music would look and sound very different than it does today.

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Michael Rand

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