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McBirnie has worked in the bebop, swing, and Latin idioms, as illustrated by his recordings as a sideman with Junior Mance (Here 'Tis, Sackville Records), Irakere (Afrocubanismo Live, Bembe Records), Memo Acevedo (Building Bridges, Jazz Alliance), Emilie-Claire Barlow (The Very Thought of You, Empress Music), and Cache (Blended and The Toronto Sessions, Indie Pool) . He is a charter member of Bernie Senensky's Moe Koffman Tribute Band.
McBirnie has produced two Extreme Flute albums (Desvio and Scratch It!) and three acoustic jazz albums under his own name entitled Nature Boy and Paco Paco (featuring pianist Bernie Senensky). These albums have consistently attained Top 40 spots at Canada's jazz station, Jazz FM 91, and in the U.S. on Bob Parlocha's syndicated jazz program.
McBirnie was chosen Flutist of the Year by the Jazz Report Awards, nominated as Miscellaneous Instrumentalist of the Year at the National Jazz Awards as well as being the only winner in all three of the U.S.A. National Flute Association's jazz flute (1) Soloist, (2) Masterclass and (3) Big Band Competitions. He has also been a longstanding contributor to the Woodwinds column of the Canadian Musician magazine and was recruited personally by James Galway to serve as his resident Jazz Flute Specialist at his official web site.
- McBirnie's album Mercy (featuring Romani pianist Robi Botos), has garnered critical success and the 2009/2010 Toronto Independent Music Award (TIMA) in the Best Jazz category.
- "A distinguished flutist with a devotion that shows up in the airy sweetness of his sound at ballad tempos and in the remarkable control he can bring to rapid-fire, skittering runs on up tempo, Coltrane-inspired material." (Stuart Broomer, Editor, CODA, Toronto Life, April 2004)
- "McBirnie has always handled bop exceptionally well. You can hear his years at the conservatory in his sound—a pure, transparent tone at rest, brightening with exertion—yet he swings like someone who grew up with a large collection of Blue Note and Prestige LPs down in the basement. He's entirely idiomatic, but also effortlessly inventive." (Mark Miller, Globe and Mail, page R6, Thursday, December 19, 2002)
- "All beautifully recorded, unclassifiable, and virtually timeless..." (Michael Steinman, Cadence Magazine, July 2004, page 109)
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With Junior Mance
- Here 'Tis (Sackville, 1992)