The first time I heard The Bird & The Bee I was smitten. I was packing for the 2007 Ozzfest tour and “Again and Again” came on the radio. The latest technology allowed my phone to listen to what song was playing and then purchase said song, and the record it came from. I did exactly that. I couldn’t stop listening to it. All summer long, it was Ozzy Ozbourne at night and The Bird & The Bee during the day. The production of each track was both modern and retro at the same time, and Inara George’s voice was like heaven in my ears. I began telling everyone I could about this new band.
In 2014 I released “Boom Bang, Boom Bang!” - my first record as a leader. I desperately wanted to cover the song “I’m A Broken Heart.” The melody, chords, and harmonic motion of The Bird & The Bee’s music lent themselves so well to jazz that the arrangement I was hearing in my head just flowed; I learned a few years after I discovered the duo that Greg Kurstin actually began his career as a jazz musician. I called Hilary to ask her to sing that first cover and she told me she was “well aware of The Bird & The Bee.” It came as no shock to me; Hilary and I have always been on the same page musically.
She nailed it. Hilary was the perfect choice. She is so expressive and, like Inara, has the rare ability to be delicate without losing any of her sass or power - which is the only way you can perform this music. Our shared love for the The Bird & The Bee and the success of that initial endeavor gave birth to this project. Along with tremendous contributions from Jeremy Manasia, who helped me get the arrangements from my head to the page, and the incomparable Neal Miner, we were able to give this incredible music a new twist. We hope you enjoy it!
Jazz purists may have clutched their proverbial pearls when The Bird & the Bee debuted on Blue Note Records over a decade ago. Electronic music! The F-word! Danceable hooks! On a venerable jazz label?! Lots of jazz musicians, however - Charles and myself included - rejoiced. Here was music as nourishing as it was confectionary; sophisticated, yes, but infused throughout with humor and joie de vivre.
Both of us being huge fans of The Bird & the Bee, Charles and I talked for years about recording a tribute album. This project lived in the realm of “someday” until one summer afternoon when I was walking through Greenwich Village, headed to Smalls for a gig. Charles called me up and announced he was moving back to Los Angeles. “Hilary, if we’re going to make this record,” he said, “it’s now or never.” I’m so glad he gave me that push and that we made this recording a reality.
At first glance, it may seem incongruous that our tribute to a synth-pop duo is also an undeniably straight-ahead jazz album, but it actually makes perfect sense. The Bird & the Bee’s songs, like many beloved jazz standards, invite endless interpretive possibilities while never losing their structural integrity. The Bird & The Bee’s songs have once again found a home on a distinguished jazz label. Full circle.
"Greg and I are very familiar with how much work it takes to cover an entire record’s worth of music by another artist. It takes a great amount of care and respect for the artist you are covering. So when I first heard Charles Ruggiero and Hilary Gardner’s record, I was blown away. All the players are obviously insanely gifted. I was beyond flattered and I had so much fun hearing how they had interpreted our songs. It was a real pleasure to hear and a great compliment for which we are very grateful.”
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