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Bruce Hornsby: Here Come the Noise Makers

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Long before he was playing backstage b-ball games with backup mates the Range-and scoring hits with 1986’s “The Way It Is” and “Mandolin Rain”-the tall, hulking Bruce Hornsby was a budding jazz pianist, albeit one with sugar-coated hooks beating on the walls of his brain. As the pop years wore out and his popularity waned, Hornsby would become increasingly enigmatic-but never artistically frustrated. One day, he could visit his Williamsburg, Va., birthplace and whip up some Southern-funky roots rock; the next he’d be filling in for late keyboardist Brent Mydland and jamming with the Grateful Dead; and the next, he would show up at Cal Ripken Jr.’s streak-breaking game and join Branford Marsalis in a Blue Note version of the national anthem.

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