10 Albums, 10 Days: Bride of the Noisemakers

I got tagged on Facebook to do this project – share ten albums that greatly influenced my taste in music. One album per day for ten consecutive days. In theory for the Facebook version this is supposed to be without explanation… but I want to explain! So I’m going to blog the explanations here.

Now we come to Bruce Hornsby. I’m not sure whether to classify this record as influential because it shaped me, or influential in that I came to it and felt an instant musical kinship. Either way, wow, this record.

Somehow I had gotten a decade into my adulthood without being familiar with Bruce Hornsby’s music. I unwittingly knew one of his hits because Rush Limbaugh used it as bumper music (back in the dark ages when I listened to Limbaugh), but that was it. But then one day I found this album – I think as a discounted digital download from Amazon – and I was hooked.

Hornsby is an amazing technical pianist – I wish I had fingers like that – but has made his career basically leading rock jam bands. Bride of the Noisemakers is a double-length live album containing the best of Bruce along with his band (the Noisemakers). They repeatedly take what would be 4-minute songs on a studio album and turn them into 10-minute jam sessions, trading back and forth between piano, guitar, bass, drums, and saxophone.

I resonate strongly with this record because, if it doesn’t sound too obnoxious, Hornsby’s playing style and harmonies feel a lot like my own. One could listen to me improvise and think that I had learned from Hornsby even though I had never really listened to his stuff. I’m not sure where that came from, but I’m happy for it.

A couple years ago my wife and I had the opportunity to hear Hornsby live here in town. It was a solo show – just him and the piano – but a fantastic couple of hours not just enjoying the songs but also getting my head around how his brain processes stuff as a musician. (I wrote up some thoughts the next day.)

In general I prefer live music performances to studio recordings, and even better if I can see the band and enjoy their interaction as artists creating music. As such, this live Bruce Hornsby record is a no-brainer for my list.

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