Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers: Levitate

His last two releases were a bluegrass record with Ricky Skaggs and a jazz trio album with Christian McBride and Jack DeJohnette, and a few songs from his latest are already earmarked for a stage musical – but Bruce Hornsby hasn’t forgotten about pop music, as evidenced by the strong, eclectic batch of tunes he lined up for his 11th studio album (and the first co-credited to his longtime backing band, the Noisemakers), Levitate. These dozen tracks tie together a handful of Hornsby’s multitudinous pop personae – piano balladeer, funk-loving programmer, raucous bandleader – without any one element overshadowing the rest. Where Levitate deviates from previous efforts is in its lack of piano solos. Hornsby and the Noisemakers aren’t afraid to lay back and blow – “Continents Drift,” for example, clocks in at almost seven and a half minutes – but the focus here is on the songs, which Hornsby pares down to their most essential parts without robbing the arrangements of any of their robust vitality. He continues his streak of cockeyed lyrical musings, too, weighing in on the role of disease in colonial American history (“The Black Rats of London”), Teddy Roosevelt (“Prairie Dog Town”), and the beloved eccentricities of Southern living (“In the Low Country”). Hornsby’s audience might have lost quite a bit of its heft since his “The Way It Is” days, but his music is better than ever. (Verve Forecast 2009)

Bruce Hornsby MySpace page


Eric Clapton and Bruce Hornsby to perform together on “Jay Leno Show”


The “Jay Leno Show” is set to premiere on September 14th and he’s already scheduled Jay-Z, Kanye, and Rhianna for opening night. However, in news that I find far more appealing, Eric Clapton and Bruce Hornsby will appear on the September 17th broadcast.

Clapton will team with Hornsby for “Space is the Place” off Hornsby’s upcoming album Levitate; he previously contributed to a few songs off Hornsby’s last LP with the Noisemakers, 2004’s Halcyon Days.

The Jay Leno Show will operate differently than Leno’s previous gig on The Tonight Show when it comes to the music. While most late-night programs book musical guests every night, the Leno show will only broadcast one or two performances a week, the Wall Street Journal reports. The logic is, in this age of YouTube, the impact of the musical guests has been watered down, so Leno will instead focus on the more unique performances like “Run This Town” and the Hornsby/Clapton collaboration. Additionally, the musical guests will be moved to the middle of the hour-long program instead of squeezing them in before the final credits roll.

Now that’s a cool idea. Since Leno is 59 years-old, he grew up during my favorite periods of music, those being the 60s and 70s. After he finishes a taping and needs to relax, you know he doesn’t go home and throw on some Jay-Z or Kanye West. I remember him talking about James Taylor during his last “Tonight Show” and how he was moved by the song “Sweet Baby James.” These are the types of musicians Leno appreciates and it would be great to have them on his new show in special one-off performances. Collaborations like this are rarely witnessed on television as artists naturally like to surprise concert audiences since these are their real fans. I hope Leno has more plans like this up his sleeve. I’m not particularly looking forward to the “Jay Leno Show,” but if he’s going to have guys like Eric Clapton and Bruce Hornsby get together and play, I’m more likely to give it a shot.

Robert Johnson influenced Eric Clapton…

and Bruce Hornsby somehow influenced Tupac…


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