Andrew Bird Swings On 'Thrills'

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Andrew Bird sings and plays the violin while attempting to re-create another time and place with his music. His new CD, Thrills, combines modern composition with an old sound: swing.

Bird is a classically trained violinist, a Suzuki method child who started on a box violin — a Crackerjack box, in this case — and graduated to a series of child-size instruments, learning to imitate rather than read music.

But Bird says he didn't like the life of a symphony-orchestra violinist. He heard other music, some inside his head, and wanted to play it. Playing by ear, he tried on a number of musical styles, playing folk and even polka. But he says that what he really wanted to do was swing.

"I'm into real blues and all sorts of traditional musics that were captured," he says. "But swing is kind of at the center of it all — not the big-band stuff, but the small-group stuff that was happening in the mid-1930s."

Click on the audio link above to hear Bird discuss his album, Thrills, with Linda Wertheimer.

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