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The Mennonite and Ballads


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Nate Birkey

Label: Birkey Music
Released: 2001
Views: 372

Track Listing

The Fool in the Tree; Delirio; Penelope; Before She Goes Away; Northern Lights; Hollow; Song Without Words; Prohibition; The Mennonite; What'll I Do.Collective

I'll Be Seeing You; Nature Boy; For All We Know; Dreaming of Memphis; Hi Lili, Hi Lo; But Not For Me; I'll Be Around; My Ship; I Will Wait For You; You Don't Know What Love Is.


Nate Birkey- trumpet, vocal & piano on "What'll I Do," added percussion on "Song Without Words;" Justin Claveria- tenor saxophone; Jamieson Trotter- piano, keyboard on "The Mennonite;" Jim Connolly- acoustic bass; Cougar Estrada- drums, percussion; Joe Woodard- guitars on "The Mennonite."


Nate Birkey sings each of the classic songs on his ballads album. Like Michael Franks and Chet Baker, he possesses a fragile, upper-register voice that floats lightly on the breeze. And, like both singers, he colors his performance with light pastels. Piano, bass and drums back him lightly. Birkey has taken care to avoid messin' with these familiar tunes. Interludes by trumpet, guitar, bass, vibraphone or piano settle in nicely and complement the singer. His straightforward delivery, however, cries out for some kind of adventure. The eerie guitar sustains on "Hi Lili, Hi Lo" seem to indicate a desire to alter the scene somewhat. For this one piece, a mild-mannered cabaret mood is surrounded by strange electric guitar sensations. It's as if their late night concert hall were experiencing the front lines of a winter storm. "I Will Wait For You" offers a similar bit of adventure. Birkey sings this one with a straight face. Like Baker, his vocal accuracy comes and goes. And, like Baker, he plays the melody on open trumpet with a respect for tonal beauty. A lover of straight-ahead improvisation, Birkey ends the arrangement with straight-ahead fun. The piece is accented in places by eerie guitar lines. It's one way to infuse something different into an arrangement, and it works. Throughout the session, the band supports by improvising brief solos, and each member finds a way to add something fresh. Whether it's quoting Monk during a Kurt Weill song, clicking a drum cadence on an Alec Wilder tune, or waxing acoustic Latin via a Gershwin number, these Household Ink artists provide mild adventures. Birkey's ballad album features his voice alongside his open and muted trumpet. While due respect is maintained for melody, the singer's uneven vocal performance hampers an otherwise favorable session.

Nate Birkey- trumpet, vocals, percussion; Jamieson Trotter- piano; Jim Connolly- acoustic bass; Cougar Estrada- drums, percussion; Ruben Estrada- vibraphone, piano; Daniel Zimmerman- electric guitar; Matt Wrobel- acoustic guitar; Joe Woodard- electric guitar.


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