Andrew Bird’s new album Break It Yourself is out this week, and while we’ve never been huge fans of the whistlin’ violin-totin’ Midwesterner, we certainly appreciate the diversity of his talents. Bird is one of the most impressive multi-instrumentalists in music today, and with both he and another musician who can apparently play pretty much anything he picks up — namely Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood — releasing new music this week, we thought it’d be a fine time to survey a selection of similarly outrageous talents. We’ve tended to focus on contemporary musicians here — after all, it gets a little tiresome to hear about Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and John Paul Jones all the time — so let us know if you have any other suggestions.
Stevens’ talents cover pretty much every seat in the orchestra. He plays stringed instruments (guitar, bass, banjo), along with piano, a range of wind and brass, drums and anything else he can get his hands on — the liner notes for Michigan credit him for over 20 instruments, including something called “dramatic cymbal swells.” Because, y’know, what record doesn’t need some dramatic cymbal swells?