"I always make a B-line for the Y section in the Jazz department," explains singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird. "It's a ritual for me to get started when I go record shopping; just go find Lester Young." On his recent visit to Amoeba Hollywood, Bird expressed his love of the tenor saxophonist's recordings. Having found an album Young recorded with Teddy Wilson, Pres and Teddy, he explains his preference for his smaller group albums. "The small group stuff is incredibly inventive and lyrical."
Best known for his solo work, Andrew Bird first came to prominence through his work with Squirrel Nut Zippers before founding Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire. After Bowl of Fire disbanded in 2003, Bird's solo career began to take off with the release of Weather Systems and Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs on Ani Difranco's Righteous Babe Records. These records marked an evolution in Bird's sound, as he began incorporating glockenspiel and whistling into his eclectic indie rock compositions. He signed to Fat Possum in 2006 and released Armchair Apocrypha. Bird went on to perform tracks from the album on the Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
Bird recorded one more album for Fat Possum, 2009's Noble Beast, before signing to Mom + Pop for a pair of albums, and Wegawam Music after that. His most recent full-length is 2016's Are You Serious, out on Loma Vista. He has collaborated with some of the biggest names in indie rock and alt-country, including the Handsome Family, Neko Case, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, and My Morning Jacket. Bird has also written tracks for the 2011 film The Muppets and the FX series Baskets.
Bird had a lot of insight into his eclectic picks, like drawing a path of influence between the recordings of New Orleans funk band The Meters and the recordings of Jamaica's Studio One. "The connection between New Orleans and the Caribbean is stronger than you might think, but it makes sense geographically," he said. "You can tell they were listening to The Meters a lot," and goes on to claim, "the Studio One take on American funk, and The Meters thing, is as good as The Meters, really."
Bird also picked up a record by the country legend Marty Robbins. "Some might call him out as being a bit of a cheese ball," he says, going on to describe his beautiful tenor voice and the "expansive sound" of his records. "I've often tried to replicate that sound on recordings." Also in his bag were an Analog Africa compilation of late '70s synthesizer grooves and the most recent Paul Simon album, Stranger To Stranger.
But what dub producer does Andrew Bird like to whistle along to? And just what classic cartoon theme does his son like to play on the piano? You'll have to watch the video to find out:
Andrew Bird - What's In My Bag?
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