Bill McBirnie Presents ‘The Silent Wish (Feat. Bernie Senensky)’

While some jazz artists of the modern generation have been fine toting around the same rhythms of musicians who occupied years gone past, extreme flutist Bill McBirnie and Bernie Senensky are determined to push the genre forward into the next decade with their new collaborative LP The Silent Wish. Methodically arranged and produced with the upmost care, The Silent Wish is an excellent commentary on the bossa nova and light swing resurgence that jazz’s gilded underground has been celebrating in the last couple of years, and by far the most intriguing listen I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing all summer. Stylishly original and steeped in a classic sound that isn’t timid about venturing off the beaten path, McBirnie and Senensky might have struck sonic gold in this awesome new outing.

There’s a reflective pop sensibility to tracks like “Reflection,” “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” and even the samba-drenched “Danca da Solidao” that hasn’t been present in any of McBirnie’s previous work. I don’t one hundred percent attribute this influence to the presence of his collaborator, but there’s no denying that Senensky’s fingerprints are all over this album from beginning to end. The two are able to bring out the best in each other and play off of the at times conflicting perspectives that they employ in search of the same goal. The Silent Wish is a remarkably listenable album, so much so that I would qualify at least half a dozen of its tracks as genuinely fresh, single worthy material.

Whether you’re a diehard jazz fan or just a casual listener, the textures that McBirnie and Senensky produce in The Silent Wish will demand your attention and likely elicit the same divine reaction that I had. When any of us hear a groundbreaking piece of music, whether it’s our style or not, we can feel it in the pit of our stomach. All the little hairs on the back of our necks stand straight up as if to warn us that we’re in the presence of rarified air. I’ve been a big jazz guy my whole life and have developed a somewhat snobby taste as a result, but The Silent Wish didn’t leave me wondering what the hype was about – it inspired me to go out and find more of this music to absorb into my world.

For audio puritans, it really doesn’t get much better than The Silent Wish. A dream come true for jazz cats and music critics alike, Bill McBirnie and Bernie Senensky’s spirited collaboration reminds us two great minds don’t have to always sit on opposite sides of the spectrum to get their individual points across. The Silent Wish is full of accents from both of these artists, and instead of feeling like we’re listening to two musicians competing for our attention, it feels like we’re witnessing a great meeting of minds (the likes of which modern pop music has never had the chance to see before). I’m thrilled with what they produced in this new album and highly recommend it to anyone with a similar desire for organic jazz.


Gwen Waggoner