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nate birkey      

the trumpeter-vocalist of quiet intensity continues his long Household Ink discography with his moving new gospel and spiritual-oriented album, Just a Closer Walk ...

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Nate Birkey, Just a Closer Walk, 2014

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      nate birkey, almost home (2008)

 HI-142= $15 (postage paid) to buy

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nate birkey, christmas (2008)

 HI-143= $15 (postage paid) to buy

(download bio, word, pdf)


 nate birkey quintet, shortest day  

 HI-134= $15 (postage paid) to buy


  nate birkey quintet, the mennonite 

   HI-129= $15 (postage paid) to buy   

  nate birkey Quintet, ballads

    HI-129= $15 (postage paid) to buy


     nate birkey quintet, indelibly you

     HI-122= $12 (postage paid) to buy


For many years, trumpeter-vocalist Nate Birkey has been steadily honing his distinctive art form, that of making a mainstream jazz statement at once warm and creatively vibrant, true to tradition but also willing to break molds for a musical purpose. For nearly twenty years, the Colorado native was based in Santa Barbara, California, where he had studied at UC Santa Barbara after attending Berklee School of Music in Boston. But an eastward move to New York in 2005 has broadened Birkeys horizons and deepened both his artistic resolve and his musical evolution.

            With the 2008 release of his fifth and latest album for the Santa Barbara-based Household Ink label, Almost Home, Birkey takes another step upward and outward, on his first recording made with his NYC-based group. Saxist Sal Giorgianni, pianist Jim Ridl, bassist Tony Marino and drummer Marko Marcinko (also the albums co-producer, with Birkey) make up the core members of Birkeys long-favored quintet format. Guests include guitarist Vic Juris, pianist Steve Rudolph, and Caf on congas.

Deftly mixing standards tastefully delivered (Cole Porters All of You Michel Legrands Little Boy Lost), warm and imaginative originals in various genre leanings, and material from less-trodden sourcesi.e. Willie Nelsons Im Falling in Love, and Ennio Morricones theme from Cinema Paradisothe album continues Birkeys engaging way with a song, as a fluid improviser and vocalist of understated grace. If there is a romantic tendency in Birkeys music, with its unabashed nods to Chet Bakers influence and an appreciation of Italianate beauty, as heard in Sandro Deiddas opening tune, Bianca, Birkey keeps musicality and intelligence high, never settling for easy sentiment.

Almost Home is both an affirmation of where Birkey has been and a solid indicator of where hes headed, as one of the more intriguing newyet mature and self-aware--voices on the current jazz scene. His sound is timeless and timely, emotionally true and going places.




"Too many jazz recordings today reflect attempts to squeeze the last drop of virtuosity and clever turns of phrase from the proud legacy of the idiom, mixing it with various flavors of classical and world music. This album is instead straightforwardly a man's expression of who he is, and that is the true essence of jazz. Eminently listenable, Almost Home is also a valid musical expression of the human heart." --Victor L. Schermer, All About Jazz, Aug. 2008


"Make way for Nate Birkey, a talented trumpeter / vocalist / composer who has been honing his talents in the Santa Barbara Jazz scene and is now getting the national exposure he deserves. Birkey's latest release, Shortest Day, recorded live in 2004, showcases his considerable gifts and puts him front and center among Jazz' most promising musicians." --Florence Wetzel, All About Jazz - New York


"Nate Birkey, he of mysterious charisma, subtle gossamer trumpet lines and understated voice, hunches over the microphone and leans into his phrases, shutting out the world." --Josef Woodard, Los Angeles Times


All you have to do is look at his two current CDs, The Mennonite and the vocal driven Ballads, to see his affinity for Chet Baker. On both, the trumpeter strikes a pose musically and physically that is very Chet like. But the sounds are solid, and Birkey definitely deserves a place on the impressive list of trumpeters with a Denver connection. Norman Provizer, Rocky Mountain News


Nate Birkeys quiet but intense demeanor typifies an artist restlessly pursuing the evolution of his own musical personality. As composer, trumpeter and vocalist he imbues warmth and broiling energy into his music. His subtle vocal and trumpet approach has often been compared to that of Chet Baker and Miles Davis respectively; a sound poised and assured, powerfully stark and spare, it creates an atmosphere at once solitary and electric.

The latest effort from the Nate Birkey Quintet, Shortest Day, combines straight-ahead jazz with occasional detours into blues, bossa nova, gospel, and even country; but maintains a cohesive sound which is passionate, intelligent and haunting.This live recording, captured at Soho, was done with all five veteran members: Nate Birkey (vocals/trumpet), Jim Connolly (bass), Jamieson Trotter (piano) son of extraordinary pianist Terry Trotter, Cougar Estrada (drums) - currently with Los Lobos, and Justin Claveria (saxophone). The album was recorded by Tim Pinch, and originally aired on the internet radio show, Comprised of several original compositions along with beautiful arrangements of such classics as "Tennessee Waltz", "Always On My Mind", and "Autumn Leaves", the album displays the quintet's ever deepening understanding of the material and sensitivity to each others playing.

As of late, Nate has been splitting his time between Santa Barbara and New York City - and places between, making these performances in Santa Barbara his last for at least several months.

            Though a California resident for the past fifteen years, Birkey hails from Colorado, learning piano at age seven and falling in love with his father's trumpet in the fifth grade. He then attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston where he honed his precise musical skills and later finished his studies at U.C. Santa Barbara.

            Critics have compared Birkey's subtle vocal and trumpet approach to that of Chet Baker and Miles Davis, respectively; a sound poised and assured, powerfully stark and spare, it creates an atmosphere at once solitary and electric. With this latest two-album release, Birkey shows that his passion and dedication to making music is both endearing and enduring.

(entry from All-Music Guide...)

by Matt Collar
Although a quintessentially west coast jazz musician, trumpeter/vocalist Nate Birkey is a Midwestern native born in Indiana and raised in Colorado. With a soft, tenor voice and pining trumpet sound Birkey draws easy comparisons with "cool school" luminaries such as Chet Baker, Miles Davis and Art Farmer. While, these references are justified, a closer examination of Birkey's work reveals a knowledge of post-bop, the "great American songbook", and a knack for harmonically challenging original compositions. Introduced to the trumpet by his father at age 7, Birkey eventually enrolled in the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Later, after a two year stint at Seattle Pacific University, Birkey enrolled in the University of California, Santa Barbera to finish out his music studies. He has been a regular presence on the Southern California jazz scene ever since. Birkey released Blue under the moniker of The Avant Gardeners in 1993 and later formed a quintet under his own name releasing Indelibly You in 1997.

  nate birkey quintet, the mennonite 

   (CD) 2001, HI-128= $15 (postage paid)


1. The Fool in the Tree (Birkey) 2. Delirio (Birkey) 3. Penelope (Birkey) 4. Before She Goes Away (Birkey) 5. Northern Lights (Roney) 6. Hollow (Trotter) 7. Song Without Words (Birkey) 8. Prohibition (Trotter) 9. The Mennonite (Birkey) 10. What'll I Do? (Berlin)

Personnel: Nate Birkey, trumpet and vocals; Jamieson Trotter, keyboards; Cougar Estrada, drums; Jim Connolly, bass; also with Joe Woodard, guitar


  nate birkey Quintet, ballads

    (CD) 2001, HI-129= $15 (postage paid)

1. I'll Be Seeing You (Fain/Kahal) 2. Nature Boy (Ahbez) 3. For All We Know (Coots/Lewis) 4. Dreaming of Memphis (Birkey) 5. Hi Lili, Hi Lo (Deutsch/Kaper) 6. But Not For Me (Gershwin/Gershwin) 7. I'll Be Around (Wilder) 8. My Ship (Gershwin/Weill) 9. I Will Wait For You (Demy/Gimbel/Legrand) 10. You Don't Know What Love Is (DePaul/Raye)

Personnel: Nate Birkey, trumpet and vocals; Jamieson Trotter, keyboards; Cougar Estrada, drums; Jim Connolly, bass; also with Ruben Estrada, piano and vibraphone; Dan Zimmerman, electric guitar, Joe Woodard, guitar


     nate birkey quintet, indelibly you

     (CD) HI-122= $12 (postage paid)


"His biggest, boldest, most original statement as a musician yet."

--Steve Libowitz, Santa Barbara News-Press


Nate Birkey, trumpet, vocals; Justin Claveria, tenor sax; Cougar Estrada, drums, percussion; Jim Connolly, bass; Jamieson Trotter, piano

Special guests: Gilles Apap, violin; Chris Symer, bass; Rob Van, piano; Joe Woodard, guitar 


1. It Never Entered My Mind (Rogers/Hart) 2. Alone Again (Birkey) soundbite Natalie (Birkey/Woodard) 4. Twilight (Birkey) 5. On to Guadalupe (Birkey)  6. Soft as an Easy Chair (Woodard) sound bite 7. Indelibly You (Birkey/Woodard) 8. Frantic (Birkey) 9. Blue (Birkey) 10. Happy Little Sunbeam (Russ Freeman)  sound bite  11. She Walks In (Woodard/Birkey)



The Avant Gardeners, BLUE (Love that Records)

1993= $12 (ppd)

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last modified: july 10, 2014