Home New Music Bill McBirnie & Bruce Jones Grain of Sand (Extreme Flute – EF07)

Bill McBirnie & Bruce Jones Grain of Sand (Extreme Flute – EF07)


Bruce Jones and I first collaborated about 15 years ago on my debut album, Desvio (which was subsequently nominated for a Toronto Independent Music Award). This initial recording project came about as a consequence of working regularly with Bruce’s Brazilian rock band, Da, and as a further consequence of dressing tracks for Bruce on his various Da, Amazon Dreams and other recording projects. After a while, I had done so much work with Bruce (whose songwriting I always admired) that I suggested to him, “Maybe we should try and do a flute-oriented project.” To my surprise, Bruce was more than happy to oblige and that suggestion evolved into our first album, Desvio, which he dubbed “extrema flauta” (and which we anglicized as “Extreme Flute”).

Our musical paths diverged thereafter but, about a year ago, Bruce asked me to do some dressing for a couple of tracks he was working on. This went really well and, in the course of doing so, I learned that Bruce had a lot of material in various stages of completion on his hard drive. Once again, I suggested to him, “Maybe we should extend ourselves and do another flute-oriented project.” Yet again, Bruce was happy to oblige and Grain of Sand is the result. As fate would have it, this project has evolved into another incarnation of Extreme Flute!

Bruce is—and always has been—enormously talented, on multiple dimensions. Musically, what he does is ostensibly Brazilian (in no small measure because he was raised in Brazil). However, he combines that rich musical heritage with many other influences, ranging from rock & roll and hip-hop to new age. For me, the big draw in working with Bruce has always been both the diversity of his material and his openness to improvisation (which is what I like to do most of all). These features of his work have always provided us with a solid basis for collaboration—both then and now.

A project of this nature—involving just the two of us—takes considerable time to complete and so it inevitably proceeds in stages. Each track starts with Bruce writing, playing and recording whatever idea he has in mind. After Bruce has laid down what is often a fairly complete track, we then overlay any flute melodies he has in mind. In addition, we conjure up shots and harmony parts and overdub these. After that, we go back and I improvise over the entire track. Finally, we take whatever we have (…which is typically far too much…) edit it and mix it down. Of course, we “subtract” far more than we “add” as the process unfolds until sooner or later (…usually later…) we find what we’re after.

The end result of this most recent collaboration, Grain of Sand, is both a fitting theme and title, because there always has been—and there always will be—a lot more from wherever this came.

Finally, Bruce and I would like to express our sincere gratitude to Canada’s premier jazz station, Jazz.FM91, for including “Tudo Bem” (a track from our first collaboration, Desvio) in their spin cycle for what is now close to 15 years! Bill McBirnie


Bill McBirnie – flute, alto flute (tracks 3 & 14) & piccolo (track 9)
Bruce Jones – guitar, vocal, percussion & synths

Compositions – by Bruce Jones (SOCAN); except tracks 3, 5, 9, 11 & 13 by Bruce Jones & Bill McBirnie (SOCAN)

Produced by – Bill McBirnie & Bruce Jones
Co-Produced by – Martha Cisneros
Recorded at – Da Da Music, Toronto, Ontario
Engineered by – Bruce Jones
Edited & Mixed by – Bill McBirnie & Bruce Jones
Mastered by – Pacy Shulman at Hilo Studio, Toronto, Ontario
Cover Photo by – Gongbass
Layout, Design & Manufacturing by – Staci Patten, Accurate Audio, Toronto, Ontario

Bill plays a Wm. S. Haynes flute, a DynaLance headjoint (made by Guo Musical Instrument Co.), an Armstrong alto flute and a Gemeinhardt piccolo.

Contact: Bill McBirnie – Extreme Flute
Phone: (416) 652-1541
E-mail: extremeflute@look.ca
Website: www.extremeflute.com


(1) Grain of Sand (Grão de Areia) 4:50
– fado, bossa nova (instrumental)

(2) Se Eu Fico Com Você (If I Stay With You) 5:02
– hip-hop, samba, rock (with voice)

(3) Quando A Chuva Cai (As The Rain Falls) 4:42
– ambient (instrumental)

(4) Izabel (Isabel) 4:06
– bossa nova (with voice)

(5) Lembrando Paul Horn (Remembering Paul Horn) 2:08
– ambient (instrumental)

(6) Breque Trio a Trêz (Break Samba Trio for Three) 4:42
– samba de breque (instrumental)

(7) Carnaval Blue (Blue Carnival) 3:27
– funk, samba (with voice)

(8) Vai Bem Devagar (Proceed With Caution) 5:26
– 6/8 bossa (instrumental)

(9) Cê Tá Com Tudo (You Are Everything) 4:44
– samba, rock (with voice)

(10) A Ponte Para Carlton (The Carlton Bridge) 4:35
– 6/8 afro brasil (instrumental)

(11) Na Quinta Esquina (On The Fifth Corner) 4:07
– ambient (instrumental)

(12) Motel Cê Que Sabe (…Who Knows Motel…) 5:08
– flowing samba (instrumental)

(13) Com ou Sem Você, Meu Amor (With or Without You, My Love) 5:16
– hip-hop samba (with voice)

(14) Grão de Areia (Grain of Sand) 3:37
– folkloric (with voice)
Total 61:53

For Additional Information Visit: www.extremeflute.com

A graduate of Empire State College with a dual major in journalism and Latin American studies, Tomas Peña has spent years applying his knowledge and writing skills to the promotion of great musicians. A specialist in the crossroads between jazz and Latin music, Peña has written extensively on the subject.


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