Andrew Wegman Bird was born July 11th, 1973 in Chicago, Illinois. Trained in the Suzuki method of violin from the age of four, Bird studied violin at Northwestern University, graduating in 1996. This virtuosic multi-instrumentalist utilizes specific techniques to mold his sound: a loop pedal, a violin, a guitar, some whistling and singing, and occasionally a glockenspiel combine to create the sound he’s known for today.
As a classically trained violinist, the classical music influences on Bird’s sound are clear. Citing musicians such as Claude Debussy as influences, Bird’s use of classical elements adds aspects of melodic sophistication and counterpoint which are a sharp edge to his sound. Specifically when using the loop pedals, Bird has a very unique sense of harmony, integrating melodic and modal flourishes into the loop and creating an ever-shifting feel to his music.
Bird takes cues from several types of older European music, including Gypsy jazz, old Irish and Scottish folk, and more. These influences are more clearly revealed in his earlier works (1996-2002) on albums such as Oh! The Grandeur (released in 1998 with his early band Bowl of Fire) which displayed an eclectic mix of folk, swing, and bluegrass. Starting around 2003, as his career developed, Andrew expanded into Indie territory, he began his well-known use of the loop pedal. As he worked towards effectively using a more popular medium, he increased the combination of all of his early influences with the new –- fashioning a never-heard sound.
Having such virtuosity on the violin, each of Andrew’s songs seemingly begin as a blank sheet of paper upon which he can draw anything within the realm of possibility. Bird’s genres include gentle Celtic folk, Latin, country (as heard on “Masterswarm” on Noble Beast, 2007), richly textured Indie alternative, lullaby violin, and a hint of electronica (as heard on “The Trees Were Mistaken” (Soldier On, 2008.) The elements of music are putty to Bird, all filtered through his classical-to-jazz education. Countless variations of mediums and influences sift through his fingers as his career continues, bringing his roots in both jazz and classical genres into clearer focus. But it is his highly creative mind that allows for an infinite amount of outlets for those founding genres. A master of a jazz-influenced sound, Andrew Bird is one of those musicians who oozes creativity, promoting collaboration, innovation, and the broadening of jazz’s horizons.
Stay tuned for the next Jazz Influenced.