Adam Birnbaum’s Preludes is a musical gem, an album that will remind listeners of the enormous influence of J.S. Bach on music that has been composed centuries after his death and remains omnipresent in both pop and jazz to this day. Paul Simon’s American Tune is very similar to Bach’s O Sacred Head, Now Wounded, while Tord Gustavsen’s best effort, the piece Tears Transforming from The Ground is another homage to the same piece. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Birnbaum’s homage to and love of JSB is used as a starting point from which he weaves modern interpretations of rhythms and melodies using Latin and samba beats as well as good old mainstream jazz. One doesn’t need to be a student of Bach’s work in order to be enthralled by this music, the interpretations stand as original creations and are joyful regardless of their inspiration.
Joining Birnbaum’s piano playing are Matt Clohesy (bass) and Keita Ogawa (percussion). The trio’s talent is abundant and evident throughout the album. Birnbaum’s ability to evoke great impressions while tinkling the ivories be they black or white, merges the styles of Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal and in places the ghost of Dave Brubeck. It is also hard not to compare his creativity to a similar effort that was popularised by Jacques Loussier in the sixties.
Complimenting this lovely effort is a great recording from Chelsea Music Festival that placs the listener in the studio in quite an uncanny fashion, it’s a remarkably accomplished 44.1/16 production. I recommend you rush to your device and download this album promptly, it is one of the best antidotes to the challenges of modern life I have heard in recent times.