The Bird and the Bee

Buzzworthy jazz-informed pop

Music Reviews The Bird and The Bee
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The Bird and the Bee

For fans of: Feist, Beth Orton, Bebel Gilberto, Burt Bacharach

Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.

Members [L-R]: Inara George (vocals), Greg Kurstin (everything else)

Fun fact: Inara George is the daughter of Lowell George, founder of ’70s blues-rock group Little Feat.

Why they’re worth watching: The duo signed to Blue Note Records (home of another moderately successful debut artist: Norah Jones) for its first album, and both George and Kurstin have had successful solo careers.

L.A. ’s The Bird and The Bee was born when singer Inara George and musician/producer Greg Kurstin discovered their common passion for classic jazz and pop music. “We ?rst sort of hung out at a piano and played a lot of jazz standards just for fun,” explains George.

The musical relationship that’s grown out of these informal collaborations has given the duo an opportunity to celebrate the styles and traditions it holds dear, reinvigorating them with fresh, fun grooves. “I feel like I always wanted to do something like this, but I never did,” says Kurstin, an accomplished jazz musician who studied with Charles Mingus pianist Jaki Byard and has lent his skills to artists like Beck, The Flaming Lips and Lily Allen. For George—whose debut album, All Rise, appeared in 2005—the collaborative nature of this project allows her to get outside herself musically and create something more lighthearted. “Sometimes when I write by myself, it’s a little more off to the left and it’s not as easily understandable,” she says, “whereas this is kind of a fun way to explore being more direct. Accessible but still interesting.”

The two describe their musical blend as “psychedelic Burt Bacharach” with overtones of Brazilian Tropicalia music and electronica. On songs like “Again & Again,” “I Hate Camera”?and “F—ing Boyfriend,” their eclectic in?uences are on full display, as is the effervescent sense of fun the album is infused with. As George explains, she and Kurstin’s creative process is “really casual and really fun. … We just kind of do what makes us happy.”

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