Bruce Hornsby is one of the most talented pianists
in popular music history
. His work is deeply inflected with his many musical interests, including jazz
. His music
has grown dramatically since his first release evolving from a southern piano rock
form to a jazz/bluegrass style that typifies his later releases. Hornsby's superb piano skills have continued to evolve as well, giving rise to an astounding two-handed independent method of play which gives his inspired solos
depth and texture rarely heard in his genre of music. in 2001
, shortly before he was scheduled to play at a fund-raiser
for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial
candidate Mark Warner
, Hornsby was flung over the wheels of his bicycle
and broke his wrist
. He showed up anyway and played a stunning one-handed 35 minute set for the grateful crowd and governor-to-be.
Hornsby was born in Williamsburg, VA in 1954. He still returns regularly to give free concerts at the College of William and Mary. His roots have influenced his music heavily. In fact, Hornsby started out playing country music and only adopted his piano rock style later. After graduating from the University of Miami's famed school of music, Hornsby joined Sheena Easton's touring band and began work on his own music. In 1986, Huey Lewis and the News' performance of Hornsby's Jacob's Ladder was number one on the Billboard charts and Bruce Hornsby and the Range released their breakthrough album The Way It Is. His innovative style set him apart from the competition. The album would eventually spawn the hit song The Way It Is and earn Hornsby a Grammy for Best New Artist. Hornsby's next two albums with the Range proved highly successful, featuring guest stars such as Huey Lewis, Bonnie Raitt, Shawn Colvin and Jerry Garcia.
Hornsby, however, wished to pursue a more jazz-inspired sound and began work on his first solo album in 1990. Around this time, the Grateful Dead's Brent Mydland passed away and Hornsby began to tour with the Dead, playing with them as a temporary replacement. Hornsby's piano and writing were also featured on a number of popular releases such as Don Henley's The End of the Innocence as well as albums by Bonnie Raitt and Bob Seger.
Hornsby's next album, Harbor Lights, was released in 1993 and began Hornsby's departure from his previous musical style, featuring longer, more involved piano solos with a much less pop-oriented air. Hornsby began assembling a band that could keep up with him artistically and improvisationally, taking live performances to new heights. His next release, Hot House, featured an impressive ensemble of guest artists such as Pat Metheny, Chaka Khan, Bela Fleck and Jerry Garcia. In 1999 Hornsby toured briefly with Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and Shawn Colvin, raising money for charity and giving some superb shows. Hornsby released a 2 CD live album, Here Come the Noisemakers, in 2000, recorded while on tour between 1998 and 1999. His latest release which came out in June of 2002, is called Big Swing Face and is a radical departure from Hornsby's previous style. The album seems almost devoid of piano, featuring much more synthesizer, guitar and a heavy bass line throughout.