7

Charles Ruggiero & Hilary Gardner: Play The Bird And The Bee

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
If you've encountered drummer Charles Ruggiero's debut, Boom Bang, Boom Bang! (Rondette Jazz, 2014), you might've seen this coming. There, in the penultimate spot on the playlist, is a cover of The Bird and the Bee's "I'm A Broken Heart" featuring vocalist Hilary Gardner. Something of an outlier on the album, it hinted at a great appreciation for the sharp lyrics and artful designs responsible for that indie synth-pop duo's acclaim.

That small seed of possibility, pointing toward the jazz potential in the songs of Inara George and Greg Kurstin, has now bloomed into this beautifully imaginative offering. Ruggiero and Gardner join forces here to deliver smart takes on eight of The Bird and the Bee's compositions. Arresting and imaginative, the music is both in line with its origins and independent in style and spirit.

Teaming up with pianist Jeremy Manasia and bassist Neal Miner, Gardner and Ruggiero get into the zone with a "Meteor" that finds vocals hanging in the stars while the drums maintain an active presence below. It's a performance that's tied to both heaven and earth. Following that kickoff, Gardner blends poise and humor (and a requisite expletive) in signature fashion on a snazzy, snapping-and-swinging "Boyfriend." Both numbers point clearly enough toward the models while also demonstrating their malleability.

If there was any doubt about the legitimacy of placing this material in a jazz context, those opening numbers swiftly dispel it. And the songs that follow continue to make good on the conceptual promise. Manasia serves as a glimmering presence while Ruggiero and Miner create a waltzing flow for Gardner to glide over on "Lovey Dovey." Gardner and Manasia, eyeing the original opening transition and molding it to their liking, introduce "You're A Cad" with a play on the sectional verse setup before Ruggiero brings his "Poinciana" groove spin into the picture. And "Diamond Dave," a billet-doux to David Lee Roth, is painted to perfection in wistful shades.

Ruggiero and Gardner have got something good going on here, occupying a niche that's completely their own. While this classiest and wittiest of reimaginings may turn out to be a one- and-done affair, a second volume would most certainly be welcome.

Track Listing: Meteor; Boyfriend; Lovey Dovey; You're A Cad; Come As You Were; Diamond Dave; The Races; Fourth Of July.

Personnel: Hilary Gardner: vocals; Jeremy Manasia: piano; Neal Miner: bass; Charles Ruggiero: drums.

Title: Play The Bird And The Bee | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: SmallsLIVE

About Charles Ruggiero
Articles | Calendar | Discography | Photos | More...

Tags

Listen

https://soundcloud.com/charles-ruggiero/sets/charles-ruggiero-hilary-gardner-play-the-bird-the-bee

Watch

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related

Read Cobb's Pocket
Cobb's Pocket
By Dan Bilawsky
Read Blues For Charlie
Blues For Charlie
By Jim Worsley
Read Cobb's Pocket
Cobb's Pocket
By Nicholas F. Mondello
Read Cause and Effect
Cause and Effect
By Ian Patterson
Read Geschmacksarbeit
Geschmacksarbeit
By John Eyles
Read Emergence
Emergence
By Geannine Reid
Read Never More Here
Never More Here
By Dan McClenaghan
Read Lanzarote
Lanzarote
By Gareth Thompson