I distinctly remember being introduced to Brazilian music, eighteen years ago, and realizing how truly wonderful it was. The style was alive and energetic, and the rhythms and nuances were something I had never experienced. If you have never listened to Brazilian music yourself, then you really should, because you won’t regret it. And there is probably no better place to start than with Grain of Sand by Bill McBirnie & BruceJones.
Although Grain of Sand might not be a "pure Brazilian" album (because there are a lot of other elements at play, including ambient, hip-hop androck), there is definitely enough to give you a real flavor of the music. Bill McBirnie is a seasoned jazz musician who specializes on the flute and his work serves as the the backbone to this album.
McBirnie has won too many awards to cite here, so suffice it to say that he plays the instrument in a way that I have simply never, ever heard before. The other half of the duo, Bruce Jones, grew up in Sao Paul, Brazil, and is responsible for the overall vibe of the album. Jones is a writer, vocalist, performer, arranger and engineer, and, on Grain of Sand, as well as singing, he plays guitar, percussion and synths.
There are fourteen songs on this album and I would encourage you to listen to ALL of them, the whole way through. Admittedly, there were a couple that caught my attention, such as “Se Eu Fico Com Você” which is a samba with just a tinge of hip-hop. Vocals and, of course, the flute are the focus of the song, but it has an easy and festive vibe to it that is
totally organic and free.
You also won’t want to miss Jones' guitar work on “Izabel” or the loose, ambient warmth that he brings with it to “Lembrando Paul Horn”. Indeed, you may as well let the music roll right on to the succeeding tracks because “Breque Trio a Trêz”, as just one example, has a relaxing, warm vibe that will surely ease your body and soul.
In contrast, “Cê Tá Com Tudo” is upbeat and festive, and the interplay here between the vocal and the flute may well be the best on the album. Some of the figures that McBirnie plays are truly amazing. Yet it still has a loose feel that communicates how much fun they are having, just making that song.
Grain of Sand is a great album that I could listen to on any occasion. It is suitable for get-togethers with friends, or simply listening to alone, when you're sad or when you're happy, on any occasion really. McBirnie and Jones really deliver on this album. So you really should take an opportunity to experience it!
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