In 1964 Jeff Bird received his first record. It was a birthday present (Jeff’s 8th). The record was a 7 inch 45 rpm by the Beatles, the hit single She Loves You yeah yeah yeah. Not so unusual, except that Jeff’s family didn’t own a record player.
“I remember carrying it with me everywhere, especially over to friend’s houses that did have record players. I was the guy with the Beatles record. The fact that I couldn’t play it at home didn’t seem to bother me. The record seemed to have powers far beyond mere machines. It was my Talisman”
So began a love of recorded music that has endured to the present, but once Jeff started playing live, he realized that there was a whole other world of magic to be explored.
“I love to instigate projects involving musicians with whom I share instant rapport. Players I have met on other projects but who have not yet performed with each other. I like to think of them as long lost brothers and sisters and these are family reuions.I have never been disapointed. Three of my recordings, Live at the Oasis Lounge, Deep Breathing and Black Mustard, are the result of these first meetings.”
“I am inspired by all musical genres, from all ages.”
While attending the University of Guelph I was turned on to Early music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. This had a huge impact on me and elements of this music continue to show up in my work, in particular the music of the twelfth century German mystic Hildegard of Bingen.
Live improvised performance is also a particular favorite and often compositions start from these improvisations.
I am enthralled with the marriage of image and music and as well as scoring many film and television productions I have as of late turned my hand to experimental film production itself.
Long time resident of Guelph Ontario, Jeff Bird is best known for his 18 year association with Cowboy Junkies. His multi-instrumental talents can be heard on the legendary recording The Trinity Session and all Cowboy Junkies’ subsequent albums. He has toured extensively with them throughout North America, Europe, Australia and Japan, gracing such legendary stages as The Royal Albert Hall, Massey Hall and Carnegie Hall. Live television performances include The Tonight Show, with the legendary Johnny Carson as well as Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman.
He can be heard playing one or more of these instruments on more than 100 recordings: Electric and acoustic bass, eight string bass, Ashbory bass, electric and acoustic mandolin, fiddle, piano, keyboards, guitar, harmonica, percussion, various wind instruments and vocals, “Working as a side man with so many diverse artists makes you aware of the vastness, and universality of musical language.”
In the world of Audio Video Jeff has realized may works including a short “docutale,” Rink, which through the use of new and traditional folk tales, tells the magical story of a complete season of a neighborhood outdoor skating rink.
The experimental music video Relentless, a moving, impressionistic digital painting, was a selection of several Canadian and international film festivals.
Body Parts, a delightful look at one disjointed human being was included in the 2005 One minute film festival in Toronto and his short, ANew York Minute was a finalist in the 2006 Mobifest film Festival . For the release of Everything is coming Clear and Plain to my Understanding Jeff compiled a photographic odyssey to accompany the music.
Jeff is also a founding member of the renowned Canadian folk group Tamarack.
As a sideman he has performed and recorded with such diverse artists as Gregory Hoskins, Loreena McKennitt, The Potion Kings with Kevin Breit, Tony Quarrington, Mike Stevens, Jane Siberry, Sue Smith, Gwen Swick, the late great old time fiddle master Graham Townshend.
Jeff has composed music for both film and television, including the feature films South of Wawa, House, Niagara Niagara and Boys Club. In the fall of 2005 he scored music for the NFB/TVO documentary Harvest Queens .Produced by Julia Nunes and Janis Hass.
His record production credits include, Tamarack, The Bird Sisters, Black Cabbage, Amy Craze, Dark Monkey and Dennis Gomo.
Jeff has two solo studio recordings; Jeff Bird and Everything is Coming Clear and Plain to My Understanding, as well as three live recordings, Live at the Oasis Lounge , Deep Breathing and, Black Mustard with harmonica virtuoso Mike Stevens .
He has recorded, produced and arranged music for a spoken word piece with award winning Magnum photographer, Larry Towell. The piece explores Larry’s 12 year experience of living with and photographing old order Mennonites in Mexico and southern Ontario.
As of 2006 Jeff has begun work on a third solo record entitled, Rhythm and Entertainment, as well as two documentaries. One is about the “Hillside Festival” in his home town of Guelph, Ontario, Canada and the second is a documentary about Accordion master, mystic and long lost brother, Jaro Czerwinec.