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Those looking for the mellow adult contemporary rock of Bruce Hornsby's 1980s hits, be aware that Camp Meeting is a straight-up contemporary jazz album, a piano trio set with bassist Christian McBride and legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette. Hornsby, a jazz pianist since his college days who fell into pop almost by accident, shows the influence of past masters like Bill Evans in his refined, restrained playing, and McBride and DeJohnette provide sure, able support. Split between originals and standards by Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, and Keith Jarrett, Camp Meeting is a solid piano jazz set.
Bruce Hornsby is a musical genius. Period.
If anybody doubts this album is legit, just listen to "Hot House" and then come talk to me. Hornsby is confident enough to explore, and skilled enough to make it happen from bluegrass with Ricky Skaggs to Americana with "Spirit Trail" to jazz with "Camp Meeting" to Mellencamp/Springsteen blue-collar rock with "The Way It Is" and "Scenes from the Southside". If you've ever appreciated Hornsby's lyrical wit and musical prowess, you owe it to yourself to check out "Camp Meeting". This guy is the real thing, and he pays homage to his influences on this record.
Credibility. Well, his initial pop success was under the weight of some fairly light weight music. I was skeptical of his depth. Since that time, Bruce has been slowly building credibility that he is more than a one hit wonder. His past role with the Grateful Dead and having guests on his solo releases such as Pat Metheny, gives evidence that there is real substance beyond some of the Muzak that he has been associated with. That brings us to Camp Meeting. First, employing the services of McBride and DeJohnnette is the first sign that this project should be worthy. Upon listening to the project, I found Bruce aggressively taking ownership of some rather impressive choice of tunes and other than taking a smooth jazz walk through, he and his remarkable and renowned compatriots, breath a fresh and rather bold approach. I highly recommend adding this release to your collection. However, if the extent of your jazz recordings in your collection is Kenny G (which is not Jazz in my book but that is another issue), I would suggest that you prepare for something abit more adventerous (and a whole lot more interesting). Way to go Bruce.
Lot's of Jazz Snap and Crackle...no Pop
Bruce Hornsby's well known for jazz inflected pop pieces, but he ventures out here with jazz stalwarts McBride and DeJohnette to flex his jazz chops. His trio set will be welcome by fans of Keith Jarrett's group work and Art Lande's ECM outings. There's a lot to like in the angular rhythmic intros followed by facile melodic interpretations of both the standards (Giant Steps) and the original work on this album. The trio is tightly knit with great interplay and this album is one of the better trio sets I've heard this year.
Born: November 23, 1954 in Williamsburg, VA
Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s