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Hornsby’s “Free” Jazz: That’s Just the Way It Is

Pianist Bruce Hornsby (pictured) may be best known for pop tunes like 1986’s “The Way It Is” and “Mandolin Rain,” but in the intervening years his music has stretched to include improvisational rock on albums like 2000’s live double CD Here Come the Noise Makers and electronica on this year’s Big Swing Face. The Berklee College of Music graduate’s music also includes a lot of jazz elements, an influence made explicit on a free album available from the pianist’s Web site,

Hornsby was visiting the home of Rick Carlisle, the head coach of the Detroit Pistons, and he sat down at the piano for an impromptu performance. Coach Carlisle, displaying the same wily ways he used to get the underdog Pistons into the playoffs and Ben Wallace’s giant ‘fro through the arena doors on a nightly basis, secretly taped the gig. He gave the bootleg recording to Hornsby, who has posted it at

Ten instrumental songs were recorded, and few tracks, such as “Swan Song…Bud Lines,” “Chick Stuff” and “McCoy,” make it clear who Hornsby’s piano heroes are. Here’s the complete track listing:

1) Boo Radley

2) Harbor Lights

3) Sad Moon – Solo

4) Hard Ones

5) Talk of the Town

6) Swan Song…Bud Lines

7) Chick Stuff

8) McCoy

9) My Romance

10) Epilogue…

Hornsby’s site also lists his extensive fall tour schedule at Fellow bootleggers will probably cover for Coach Carlisle for whatever gigs he can’t attend and tape.

Originally Published