Bruce Randall Hornsby (born November 23, 1954) is an American singer, pianist, accordion player, and songwriter. Known for the spontaneity and creativity of his live performances, Hornsby draws frequently from classical, jazz, bluegrass, folk, Motown, rock, blues, and jam band musical traditions with his songwriting and the seamless improvisations contained within.

Hornsby's recordings have been recognised on a number of occasions with industry awards, including the Best New Artist Grammy in 1987 with Bruce Hornsby and the Range, the Best Bluegrass Recording Grammy in 1990, and the Best Pop Instrumental Grammy in 1993.

Hornsby has also achieved recognition for his solo albums and performances, his current live act Bruce Hornsby & the Noise Makers, his bluegrass project with Ricky Skaggs, his jazz act The Bruce Hornsby Trio, and his appearances as a session- and guest-musician. He also collaborated with the Grateful Dead and was a member of the band from September 1990 to March 1992, playing at many shows during this period in their history.

Early years/background information

Bruce Randall Hornsby was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, a son of Robert Stanley Hornsby (1920-1998), a real-estate developer and former musician, and his wife, née Lois Saunier. Raised a Christian Scientist, he has two siblings, Robert Saunier Hornsby and Jonathan Bigelow Hornsby.1

He graduated from James Blair High School in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1973, where he played on the basketball team. He studied music at the University of Richmond, as well as Berklee College of Music and the University of Miami, from which he graduated in 1977.

In the spring of 1974 Hornsby's older brother Bobby, who attended the University of Virginia, formed the band "Bobby Hi-Test and the Octane Kids" to play fraternity parties, featuring Bruce on Fender Rhodes and vocals. The band, which is listed in Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads, performed covers of Allman Brothers Band, The Band, and predominantly Grateful Dead songs. Although Hornsby's collaboration with Bobby Hornsby would be relatively short-lived, Bobby's son R.S. was a recurring guest-guitarist with Hornsby's band and periodically toured with his uncle.

Following his graduation from the University of Miami, in 1977, Bruce returned to Williamsburg and played in local clubs and hotel bars. In 1980, he and his younger brother (and songwriting partner) John Hornsby moved to Los Angeles, where they spent three years writing for 20th Century Fox. Hornsby also spent time in Los Angeles as a session musician and touring with Sheena Easton's band before moving back to his native southeastern Virginia.

Hornsby currently uses a Steinway & Sons concert grand piano. He bought the piano in Zurich, Switzerland, while on a solo show tour in Europe in 1995. With the Range and up until 1995, he used a Baldwin concert grand piano. He currently uses a Korg M1 synthesizer. With the Range, Hornsby used an Oberheim OB-X synthesizer.

Outside the realm of music, Hornsby is a good basketball player and an avid fan of the sport. As such, he can frequently be seen at college basketball games around the state of Virginia. He is also a friend of former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, and attends games in St. Louis whenever he can. Their friendship led to La Russa introducing Hornsby to jazz bassist Christian McBride, which then led to the formation of The Bruce Hornsby Trio (along with drummer Jack DeJohnette) and their first album, Camp Meeting.

Bruce Hornsby was raised a Christian Scientist and its influence can be seen in some of his songs. Hornsby and his wife Kathy have twin sons; Russell, a top middle distance track recruit in the US, and Keith, who plays Division I basketball for UNC Asheville Bulldogs. They were named after Leon Russell and Keith Jarrett.

The Range

In 1984 he formed Bruce Hornsby and the Range, who were signed to RCA Records in 1985. Besides Hornsby, Range members were David Mansfield (guitar, mandolin, violin), George Marinelli (guitars and backing vocals), Joe Puerta (bass guitar and backing vocals), and John Molo (drums).

"The Way It Is" (1986)

The song's discussion of the troubled economy and race relations resonated with the American public and it remains Hornsby's best known song.

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Hornsby's recording career started with the biggest hit he has had to date, entitled "The Way It Is". It topped the American music charts in 1986. With a propulsive yet contemplative piano riff and the refrain, That's just the way it is / Some things will never change / That's just the way it is / But don't you believe them, the song was catchy and described aspects of the American Civil Rights movement and institutional racism. In years to come, the song would be sampled by at least six rap artists, including Tupac Shakur, E-40, and Mase.

With the success of the single worldwide, the album The Way It Is went multi-platinum and produced another top five hit with "Mandolin Rain" (co-written, as many of Hornsby's early songs were, with his brother John Hornsby). "Every Little Kiss" also did respectably well. Other tracks on the album helped establish what some labeled the "Virginia sound", a mixture of rock, jazz, and bluegrass with an observational Southern feel. Bruce Hornsby and the Range would go on to win the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1987, beating out Glass Tiger, Nu Shooz, Simply Red and Timbuk3.

Hornsby and the Range's sound is somewhat distinctive. For one, Hornsby's consistent use of syncopation in his piano solos was different from other pianists during the 1980s. Hornsby used a brighter piano sound, which was typical for 1980s pop music. There is also extensive use of synthesizers used as background for Hornsby's solos, most notable on the tracks "The Show Goes On" and "The Road Not Taken". John Molo's drumbeats were often looped throughout the recorded versions of songs. They are typical double-time beats, which allowed Hornsby and the rest of the band to do more with their solos.

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Bruce Hornsby Timeline

1984-1991

Bruce Hornsby and the Range

1990-1992

Grateful Dead

1993-1995

Solo Albums: Harbor Lights & Hot House

1996-1998

Further Festivals & The Other Ones, Solo Album: Spirit Trail

1998-present

Bruce Hornsby and the Noise Makers

2007-present

Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby

2007-present

The Bruce Hornsby Trio (with Christian McBride & Jack DeJohnette)

Hornsby and the Range's second album, Scenes From The Southside (on which Peter Harris replaced Mansfield) was released in 1988. It featured such hits as "Look Out Any Window" and "The Valley Road" which many critics noted due to their "more spacious" musical arrangements, allowing for "more expressive" piano solos from Hornsby. The song "Jacob's Ladder" was featured as well, having originally been written by Hornsby for musician friend Huey Lewis; Lewis' version became a number one hit from his album Fore!.Scenes was successful as an album, once again offering slices of "Americana" and "small-town nostalgia," but it would be the group's last album to perform so well in the singles market.

In 1988, Hornsby first appeared on stage with the Grateful Dead, a recurring collaboration that would continue until the band's dissolution. Hornsby went on to appear on stage frequently as a guest before becoming a regular fixture in the touring lineup for the Dead a few years later. During the late 1980s and early 1990s Hornsby worked extensively as a producer and sideman, notably producing a comeback album for Leon Russell, an idol of Hornsby's. In 1989 Hornsby co-wrote and played piano on Don Henley's big hit "The End of the Innocence," and in 1991 played piano on Bonnie Raitt's popular hit "I Can't Make You Love Me". Bruce continues to feature both of these songs in his own concerts. He also appeared on albums by Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, Crosby Stills and Nash, Stevie Nicks and Squeeze during this time period.

During this era he slowly began to slip jazz and bluegrass elements into his music, first in live performance settings and later on studio work. In 1989, he first performed at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. He also reworked his hit "The Valley Road" with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band for their album Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume Two. The song won at the 1990 Grammy Awards for Best Bluegrass Recording.

A Night On The Town was released in 1990, on which he teamed up with jazz musicians Wayne Shorter and Charlie Haden as well as bluegrass pioneer Bela Fleck. A change in style became apparent as the album was much more rock- and guitar-driven, making use of Jerry Garcia's guitar work on a number of tracks, perhaps most prominently on the single "Across the River". In concert, Hornsby and the Range began to stretch out their songs, incorporating more and more "freewheeling musical exchanges." Critics received the album quite well, praising it for its production, its political relevance, and Hornsby's gestures toward expanding out of a strictly pop sound by incorporating jazz and bluegrass. Ultimately, though, the core "rock band" sound of the Range limited Hornsby's aspirations, and after a final three-week tour in 1991, Hornsby disbanded the outfit to enter a new phase of his career. Drummer John Molo continued to perform regularly with Hornsby for another few years, although other members pursued separate musical endeavors. Following Hornsby's and Molo's involvement with The Other Ones, Molo left Hornsby to become the primary drummer with Phil Lesh and Friends.

The Grateful Dead

Bruce Hornsby played over a hundred shows with the Grateful Dead, beginning in 1988 and continuing until Jerry Garcia's death in 1995.

Between September 1990 and March 1992, Hornsby played piano (and frequently accordion) at many Grateful Dead gigs, following the death of Brent Mydland. After that period, Vince Welnick became the sole keyboardist, although Hornsby still sat in with the band on occasion.

Hornsby's own music evolved significantly during this time period. Critics have suggested that Dead's vibrant tradition of melding folk music and the blues with psychedelic rock in "loose-knit expressions" and extended jamming "further pushed Hornsby outside the confines of mainstream pop." Critics have also commented upon the "close musical connection" formed between Hornsby and Jerry Garcia, suggesting that Hornsby's particular style of jazz-fueled improvisation added to the band's repertoire, and helped to revitalize and refocus Jerry Garcia's guitar solos in the band's sound. Hornsby's friendship with Garcia would continue, both inside and outside the band, as the two would "challenge" each other to expand their musicianship through several other album and live collaborations. Above all, Hornsby's musical versatility and ability to slip in and out of extended freeform jams won over longtime Grateful Dead fans.

Hornsby originals "The Valley Road" and "Stander on the Mountain" appeared several times in the Dead's setlists. Hornsby also co-performs the improvisation "Silver Apples of the Moon" for the Grateful Dead's Infrared Roses.

Beginning in the early 1990s, and continuing to the present, Hornsby's own live shows have drawn Deadheads; he reflects upon this phenomenon as follows: "I've always liked the group of fans that we've drawn from the Grateful Dead time, because those fans are often adventurous music listeners." Hornsby has paid tribute to his time with the Dead by performing a number of their songs during his concerts and by various homages on studio and live albums.

In 1994 the Grateful Dead were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the ninth annual induction dinner. Bruce Hornsby was their presenter. To this day, Hornsby continues to work with Dead-related projects, such as Bob Weir's Ratdog, Mickey Hart's solo projects, and in 2005 participated in a tribute concert to Jerry Garcia, "Comes a Time." He has also sat in with The Other Ones and The Dead.

Solo

Hornsby would go on to release his first solo album, Harbor Lights, in 1993. This record showcased him in a more jazz-oriented setting and featured an all-star lineup, including Pat Metheny, Branford Marsalis, Jerry Garcia, Phil Collins, and Bonnie Raitt. Unlike earlier albums, Harbor Lights allowed more space for Hornsby's and guest-players' "extended instrumental" solos to "flow naturally" out of the songs. The tone was set by the opening title track, which after 50 seconds of expansive solo piano lurches into an up-tempo jazz number, ending with Metheny's guitar runs. The album closes in a similar fashion with "Pastures of Plenty", this time with an extended guitar solo from Garcia intertwined with Hornsby's piano. Hornsby also quotes the main musical phrase from the Grateful Dead's "Dark Star" as the jazz head to his song about tensions surrounding a biracial relationship, "Talk of the Town". The mid-tempo "Fields of Gray", written for Hornsby's recently-born twin boys, received some modest radio airplay. Harbor Lights was well-received by critics and fans, who praised it for its "cooler, jazzier sound" and its "affinity for sincere portraits of American life, love, and heartache." Hornsby would also secure his third Grammy in 1993 for Best Pop Instrumental for "Barcelona Mona" (composed with Branford Marsalis for the Barcelona Olympics).

In 1995, Hot House was released with its cover art, featuring an imagined jam session between bluegrass legend Bill Monroe and jazz legend Charlie Parker, serving as an apt metaphor for the rich fusion of musical styles Hornsby was currently developing and expanding. This album would find Hornsby expanding upon the foray into jazz sound from Harbor Lights, this time reintroducing elements of bluegrass from A Night On The Town and his earlier collaborations. Much like the socially-conscious lyrics of his earlier work, the underlying messages behind the catchy tunes are often very dark, such as on "Country Doctor", "Hot House Ball" and "White Wheeled Limousine", where story-telling lyrics build around spousal murder, nuclear disaster, and wedding-day adultery, respectively. The album featured many of the same guests as on his previous record, such as Pat Metheny and Jimmy Haslip. Béla Fleck also collaborates again on banjo. On the last song of the album "Hot House," is the very last song Jerry Garcia played guitar on for a Bruce Hornsby album called "Cruise Control." At a concert he performed in Buffalo, NY in August 2008 on the anniversary of Garcia's death, Bruce said that Garcia really wanted to play on the song "Country Doctor", but due to his ailing health, he gave Garcia an easier tune to play.

As a testament to Hornsby's willingness to allow songs space to grow and evolve, it is worth noting that the song "White Wheeled Limousine" had debuted five years earlier as an encore to Branford Marsalis's opening act for the Grateful Dead's 12/31/90 New Year's Concert, (Marsalis and Rob Wasserman joined Hornsby in the performance). The Hot House version of "White Wheeled Limousine" pairs Pat Metheny's guitar with Béla Fleck's banjo for a blisteringly intricate call-and-response alongside Hornsby's piano runs.Hot House also makes an homage to Hornsby's years with the Dead via his recasting of the chorus/bridge of the Dead's song "Estimated Prophet" as the newly-lyricized Hornsby tune "Tango King." The album also boasts a more prominent role for Harbor Lights alum John D'earth on trumpet and introduces Bobby Read on woodwinds and J. V. Collier on bass. Read and Collier continue to perform with Hornsby to date.

"To be creative, spontaneous in the moment and make music in the present tense, that's what we're all about live. I write the songs, we make the records and then the records become a departure point, the basic blueprint, the basic arrangement. I'm fairly restless creatively. I was never a very good Top 40 band guy because I never liked to play the same thing every time. Too often songwriters approach their songs like museum pieces. I don't subscribe to that. I think of my songs as living beings that evolve and change and grow through the years."

-- Bruce Hornsby

During this time period, "even his concerts conveyed a looser, more playful mood, and Hornsby began taking requests from the audience." Hornsby's concerts became "departure points" for his album compositions, which would be blended with and reworked into "lengthy spontaneous medleys". Both in terms of audience requests and in terms of spontaneous on-stage decisions, Hornsby's performances became opportunities for him to challenge himself by trying to "find a way to seamlessly thread these seemingly disparate elements together."

Hornsby next worked with several Grateful Dead reformation projects, including several Furthur Festivals and the ultimate formation of The Other Ones, which resulted in the release a live album, The Strange Remain. Hornsby's piano and vocals factor heavily into the band's performance of classic Dead tunes "Jack Straw" and "Sugaree" (which features Hornsby on lead vocal, in Jerry Garcia's absence), and Hornsby-originals "White-Wheeled Limousine" and "Rainbow's Cadillac" receive reworkings in the hands of The Other Ones.

Three years after Hot House, Hornsby released a double album, Spirit Trail. Featuring a decidedly goofy picture of his uncle on the cover, the collection blends instrumental tracks with the story-telling, rock, jazz, and other musical forms Hornsby had delved into over his career. Over the two discs, Hornsby weaves a tapestry of varied textures, from the fervent spirituality then almost gospel dirge of "Preacher in the Ring, parts I & II," to the catchy chord progressions of "Sad Moon." Among other homages, the song "Sunflower Cat (Some Dour Cat) (Down With That)" samples and loops the main lick from the Grateful Dead song "China Cat Sunflower." In some of the songwriter's most poignant lyrics to date, Spirit Trail considers "very Southern" themes with "songs about race, religion, judgment and tolerance" and "struggles with these issues." Exemplary in this regard is the tune "Sneaking Up on Boo Radley," which references the character from Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

Throughout the sequence of Harbor Lights, Hot House, and Spirit Trail, Hornsby's piano playing steadily gained further complexity, taking on a more varied array of musical styles and incorporating more and more difficult techniques, as evidenced by his two-hand-independence on Spirit Trail's "King of the Hill." During this same span of solo album years, Hornsby made several mini-tours playing solo piano gigs for the first time in his career. These shows allowed Hornsby limitless possibilities for seguing songs into other songs, often blurring lines between classical compositions, jazz standards, traditional bluegrass, folk, and fiddle tunes, Grateful Dead songs, and, of course, reworkings of Hornsby originals. Hornsby reflected on these periods of intensive solo performances stating that these solo tours helped him "recommit himself to the study of piano" and "take his playing to a whole new level", explorations and improvisations that would not be possible in a band setting.

The Noisemakers

Hornsby's own touring band line up underwent extensive changes during the period from 1998 to 2000 as well, not the least of which was the apparent end of musical collaboration with long time drummer John Molo, who then became former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh's regular drummer in his post-Dead band Phil Lesh & Friends. A set of twenty consecutive shows performed by Hornsby and his band at Yoshi's Jazz Club in Oakland, CA would mark a particularly innovative period of evolution for his live shows; here Hornsby and his band were "able to explore songs in a completely spontaneous fashion". From this point to the present Bruce has avoided even planning set lists for his shows, preferring to choose songs on the spot based mainly on audience requests. As Hornsby experimented with a different sound, ushering in frequent collaborations with such musicians as Steve Kimock on guitar and Bobby Read on heavily effects-driven electronic woodwinds, his current band, dubbed Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, took shape. In 2000, Hornsby chronicled this journey with a compilation live album entitled Here Come The Noise Makers, and did extensive touring with his new band featuring John "J. T." Thomas (keyboards, organ), Bobby Read (saxophones, woodwinds, flute), J. V. Collier (bass), Doug Derryberry (guitar, mandolin), and several different drummers before Sonny Emory took over full-time.

Here Come The Noise Makers not only captures the ambience of one of Hornsby's concerts, but it also reflects the vibrant temperament and true stylistic diversity with which he approaches his craft, treating the live performance like a journey in search of the perfect musical moment. With this album, Hornsby is determined to create a hybrid style that encompasses rock, jazz, and classical music within a jam band mentality. The concert musical experience captured on the album embodied the gestures towards complete improvisatory musical spontaneity and towards recasting old songs as unrecognizably new that so much of Hornsby's solo work had been forecasting, this time in a full band setting. The album covers pieces by many of Hornsby's musical influences, George Gershwin, Samuel Barber, Bill Evans, Bud Powell, and Bob Dylan among them. Hornsby directly acknowledges the influence of the Dead by performing their songs "Lady with a Fan" and "Black Muddy River" and by including a version of "The Valley Road" that seems to have "emerged from the Grateful Dead's "Wharf Rat."

His next studio album of new material was not until 2002: Big Swing Face. This album marked Hornsby's most experimental effort to date; Big Swing Face, the only album on which Hornsby barely plays any piano, relies heavily on post-electronica beats, drum loops, Pro Tools editing, and dense synthesizer arrangements. The album also boasts a "stream-of-consciousness wordplay" of lyrics that are in many ways more eccentric and humorous than previous work. The jazz fusion jam on "Cartoons & Candy" and the gesture towards Hornsby's jam band influence with Steve Kimock's extended guitar solo on "The Chill" highlight some of the album's only familiar territory, and Hornsby cites the opening track, "Sticks and Stones," as his partial homage to Radiohead's "Everything in its Right Place."Big Swing Face met mixed reviews ranging from "a new and improved Bruce Hornsby" to feeling as if "someone else is singing" to the album being called one of the "strangest records of 2002." Album sales were not helped by poor promotion from RCA, perhaps prompting Hornsby's decision to leave the label.

In 2004, after 19 successful years on RCA Records, Hornsby returned to a more acoustic, piano-driven sound on his Columbia Records debut Halcyon Days, which reviewers referred to as "pure Hornsby". Guests included Sting, Elton John, and Eric Clapton. The tracks "Gonna Be Some Changes Made," "Candy Mountain Run," "Dreamland," and "Circus On The Moon" would become quick concert staples, each showcasing the diversity of Hornsby's improvisations and the Noise Makers' live sound. Notably, Halcyon Days also includes a suite of solo piano songs--"What The Hell Happened," "Hooray For Tom," and "Heir Gordon"--which all have a "Randy Newman pastiche." Although the album was markedly less-risk-taking than Big Swing Face, it would be well-received as a "winning balance of Hornsby's tuneful and adventurous sides." Throughout tours following the album's release, both with the Noise Makers and in solo performances, Hornsby continued to demonstrate his desire to "grow" as a singer and performer and to expand the instrumental possibilities of the piano in various genres. During this time period, Hornsby also began to offer CD-sets/digital downloads of digitally-mastered soundboard recordings of live concerts via the Bruce Hornsby Live website; selected concerts have been offered from 2002 to the present.

In July 2006, Hornsby released a 4 CD/1 DVD box set titled Intersections (1985-2005). The discs are thematically broken into three categories: "Top 90 Time," "Solo Piano, Tribute Records, Country-Bluegrass, Movie Scores," and "By Request (Favorites and Best Songs)" (2 CDs). A full third of the music is previously unreleased; many familiar tracks are presented as unreleased live versions rather than the original studio recordings, and the majority of the remaining tracks are from single "B" sides and aforementioned collaborations and/or tribute albums and movie soundtracks. Some noteworthy collaborations include a piano-and-saxophone duet with Ornette Coleman and a performance with Roger Waters of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb." The set also offers a number of excellent examples of Hornsby's re-inventiveness with his own compositions, particularly in a live setting, for instance three different versions of "The Valley Road" are included--a live "bluesy funk" version with the Noise Makers, a Grammy-winning bluegrass version with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and "a loose and sloppy but totally grooving boogie" take with the Grateful Dead. Critics have said that Hornsby's particular integrations of different musical genres, and his passion for reinventing his own compositions, create a kind of music many might "never hear" otherwise as it is "a kind of music no one else is making." All ticketholders on Hornsby's 2006 Solo Piano tour received a free copy of this set. Among Intersections (1985-2005) is the Grammy nominated track "Song H," a new composition which competed for Best Pop Instrumental at the 2007 Grammy Awards. In recent concerts, Hornsby has begun playing classical music. In a 2007 concert in Saint Louis, Missouri, during Hornsby's improvisational session in "The Way It Is", he began playing J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations along with the drums. On that same tour in a different city, he played five straight Goldberg Variations over the effected drum intro of "Gonna Be Some Changes Made."

On September 15, 2009, Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers released their fourth album, to mixed reviews. The album is titled Levitate. This album is somewhat musically different. Hornsby and the Noisemakers have gone as far as to not include piano solos. The first single, "Levitate", was released on June 9, 2009.

Noisemakers members:

Bruce Hornsby -- piano, keyboards, accordion, vocals,

John "J. T." Thomas -- keyboards, organ,

Bobby Read -- saxophones, woodwinds, flute,

J. V. Collier -- bass,

Doug Derryberry -- guitar, mandolin,

Sonny Emory -- drums,

Occasionally:

R.S. Hornsby -- guitar,

Skaggs & Hornsby/The Bruce Hornsby Trio (2007-present)

With the arrival of 2007, Hornsby would see two new musical projects come to fruition with the release of two new albums.

Dating back to a 2000 collaboration on the track "Darlin' Cory" for Big Mon, a Bill Monroe bluegrass tribute album, Bruce Hornsby and Ricky Skaggs had discussed launching a project together. In March 2007, the duo, backed by Skaggs's band Kentucky Thunder, released the bluegrass album Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby, and set several tour dates together. Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby combine bluegrass, traditional country, "a tinge of Hornsby's jazzy piano and a splash of humor" on a spectrum of songs from the traditional "Across the Rocky Mountain" and "Hills of Mexico" to new compositions such as the opening track "The Dreaded Spoon," "a humorous tale of a youthful ice cream heist." The pair also reinvent Hornsby's hit "Mandolin Rain" as a minor key acoustic ballad and "give his cautionary tale of backwoods violence", "A Night On the Town," a treatment highlighting the "Appalachian storytelling tradition that was always at the song's heart." The album ends a surprise cover of Rick James's funk hit "Super Freak" in a bluegrass arrangement. Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby would top Billboard's bluegrass charts for several weeks after its release. As Hornsby carves out a new-found place for piano within traditional bluegrass, disproving the notion that the piano is not compatible with "string-oriented" bluegrass, critics have called his playing and songwriting "centered, focused, and inspired." The duo of Hornsby and Skaggs put some of their collaborative material on display for a television audience on February 24, 2007 with the premier of an episode of the series CMT Crossroads. The performance featured the two artists backed by Skaggs' band Kentucky Thunder and showcased songs such as "Mandolin Rain","Super Freak", and a bluegrass-influenced version of Hornsby's hit "The Way It Is".

Simultaneous to the bluegrass project, Bruce Hornsby has formed The Bruce Hornsby Trio and recorded a jazz album titled Camp Meeting. Hornsby is joined in his trio by jazz giants Christian McBride (bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums). Alongside original compositions by Hornsby, the trio delivers "newly reharmonized versions" of tunes by John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, and a previously unrecorded Ornette Coleman work titled "Questions and Answers" as well as an early Keith Jarrett composition "Death and the Flower." The trio made a series of appearances in the summer of 2007, at the Playboy Jazz Festival, the Newport Jazz Festival, and at the Hollywood Bowl, among other bookings.

During 2007, Hornsby made concert appearances of historical import. On January 4, former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart reunited along with Hornsby, Mike Gordon (of Phish and the Rhythm Devils) and Warren Haynes to play two sets at a post-inauguration fundraising party for Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House in the United States Congress. They were billed as "Your House Band" and performed some Dead classics such as "Truckin'" and "Touch of Grey". Other performers appearing at the event included Tony Bennett, Wyclef Jean and Carole King. Additionally, Bruce Hornsby & The Noise Makers hosted an evening of rock, R&B and progressive bluegrass on May 12, 2007, to honor America's beginnings 400 years ago at Jamestown, Virginia. Hornsby was joined by some of his Grammy-winning friends, including legendary funk and R&B artist Chaka Khan and progressive bluegrass master Ricky Skaggs and his band Kentucky Thunder.

Bruce Hornsby has also been writing songs for a Broadway Musical, titled "SCKBSTD". One song from this project, a playful biographical tune about real-estate tycoon Donald Trump titled "The Don of Dons," made several appearances in setlists during his early-2007 solo piano performances.

Hornsby has composed the score for Spike Lee's new ESPN documentary, titled Kobe Doin' Work, about NBA star Kobe Bryant and his MVP season.

Steinway & Sons recently announced that their new Limited Edition Signature Piano Series will feature Hornsby. Hornsby selected ten Model B Steinway Grands to be featured in this collection, each one personalized with his signature. Hornsby owns three 9-foot Model D Steinway Grands himself.

Outside of music composition and performance, Hornsby has taken an ownership interest in Williamsburg area radio station "The Tide," WTYD 92.3 FM, and he has endowed the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music Program at University of Miami's Frost School of Music, encouraging the study of songwriting broadly across traditional genres. Hornsby played himself in a cameo role in the Robin Williams movie World's Greatest Dad, in which Williams' character plays a Bruce Hornsby fan. He continues to reside with his family outside of Williamsburg, Virginia.

Hornsby's nephew, and sometime Noisemaker R.S. Hornsby, died on January 15, 2009 in a car accident near Crozet, Virginia. He was 28.

Bruce's newest Noisemakers album, Levitate, was released on September 15, 2009. It primarily features songwriting more than instrumental fireworks, going so far as to have no piano solos. It also gives several "SCKBSTD" songs their first public release.

According to the official Bruce Hornsby website: No Tour in 2010... Many of you have asked about Bruce's touring plans for 2010. Bruce says, "I'm burned out from being on the road and am taking a break long enough to allow me to enjoy it again."

Bruce Hornsby played keyboards on "Her Dance Needs No Body" and "Red Hot Mama" with Widespread Panic to close out the 10th annual Bonnaroo Music and Art Festival on June 12, 2011.