The crowd of several thousand standing in the Atlanta Fairground shouted into the bright, hot, southern sky.
“Are they saying ‘Bruce’ or ‘boo?” Juliana asked.
“It’s hard to tell,” I replied. “I for one, am shouting ‘Bruce.’ How could you boo the spidery fingers of Bruce Hornsby? Especially during such a hot version of ‘The Way It Is!’”
“They must be yelling ‘Bruce.’”
And they were, as hundreds of thousands have yelled the same throughout Hornsby’s twenty year career.
That night Bruce was playing keys with the Other Ones – the first Grateful Dead reincarnation post Jerry Garcia’s death. It was but one of many collaborations in a career full of imaginative, incredible ensembles including Ricky Skaggs, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt and Pat Metheny.
To say Bruce Hornsby is a multifaceted musician would be like calling Leonardo DaVinci a renaissance man – certainly it is true, but also rather superfluous and redundant.
With the release of the new boxed set, “Intersections Bruce Hornsby has shown just how multi-talented he really is – from piano based power-pop to bluegrass and century’s old fiddle tunes to improvisational jazz the songs covered in this set stretch across the American song book.
The bulk of the music presented here is culled form previously unreleased live cuts. This is not only good news for the hard core fan who already has all the studio tracks, but for the casual listener interested in understanding Hornsby’s work. As is the way for many of the artists I enjoy, Hornsby’s studio albums are often less than totally satisfying. In a live setting is where Bruce has always found his own, and performed nothing less than inspiring.
The set is separated into three categories spanning four disks. The first, “Top 90 Time” contains the hits and singles, albeit often live and in a different arrangement than what is found on the original album.
The second disk, labeled “Solo Piano, Tribute Records, Country-bluegrass, Movie Songs” contains just that. The first seven songs are instrumental piano numbers uniquely titles “Songs A-H”. The rest are songs Hornsby either played on for friends and co-conspirators, movie soundtracks, and tribute albums.
The remaining two disks, named “By Request” are fan favorites and personal selections.
Interestingly, Hornsby has elected to keep most of his up tempo numbers as the officially released studio version. It is on his slower ballads that he has brought unreleased liver versions to this set. This is perhaps because fans were treated to primo live versions of his faster songs on the 2000 release Here Come the Noisemakers. Or, perhaps it is because live, his up tempo numbers can stretch into double digits, minute wise, which would leave few spaces for more songs.
Whatever the reason, we are still left with a tremendous collections of songs showcasing one of the more talented musicians of the last 20 years.
The boxed set is encased in a lovely three fold binder and includes a 59 page booklet highlighting his career. It includes a personal note from Bruce about each of the songs, numerous photographs, an a tongue-in-cheek retrospective of the critical assessment of his albums (including a number of reviews completely panning his work).
Also included in the set is a DVD full of videos clips (ranging from super cheesy ready-for-MTV videos from the 80’s to highly stylized clips directed by Spike Lee to live performances with the Grateful Dead, Roger Waters and even the “Star Spangled Banner” performed with Branford Marsalis at the World Series.)