Jeff Bird – Rhythm And Entertainment
In 1987, multi-instrumentalist Jeff Bird entered the Church of the Holy Trinity in downtown Toronto to lend accompaniment to a young band called Cowboy Junkies. The results of that day became The Trinity Session, one of the most acclaimed records of the decade. Bird has been a fixture on the band’s subsequent albums and tours ever since. It’s just one of the many musical paths Bird has followed over his career. With his new album Rhythm And Entertainment, Bird presents selections from all corners of his musical universe.
The twenty selections stretch from jazz to ambient while touching just about every style in between. The sequencing is critical to the experience as Bird guides us through his many styles with care. Each new song feels like turning a corner in a musical house of curiosities without losing your sense of place in the overall journey. Opening track “Souvenir Flutes” strikes the mood for the journey as you enter his world spinning through a droning fog where instruments scurry over your feet with each step forward. It’s a mesmerizing track that carries you to a different frame of mind which is critical to experiencing Bird’s sometimes challenging music.
Mixing jazz and country on the Hank Williams song “Kawliga”, Bird’s understated but astoundingly proficient musical ability takes center stage, something he has rarely done throughout his career. Throughout Rhythm and Entertainment, his cosmic understanding of any instrument he touches steps further into the spotlight for us to appreciate. Whether delivering a mandolin solo sitting behind Margo Timmins of Cowboy Junkies or working in the pioneering folk band Tamarack, Bird has always blended into the fabric of the song. Spending time with these selections, the listener can better see Bird’s work in its natural setting. It’s a wonderful experience that offers different entry points depending on your own musical expectations. From the rocking stomp of “King Kong Strut” to the Japanese textures of “Ryukyu”, Bird’s music has a weird playfulness that makes even the most experimental songs an exciting listen. Bird may find it easy to pick up an instrument and blend into any musical situation but it’s much harder to suppress the joy of playing and on Rhythm and Entertainment, Bird’s love of music shines brightly.