Bruce Hornsby considers his latest album, “Levitate,” just another “curve ball” — the kind he’s been throwing at the music industry since he topped the charts in 1986 with “The Way It Is” and its long, jazz-styled piano solos.
This time out, however, Hornsby eschewed his trademark piano with songs that are driven by and focus on other instrumentation and also on his compositions.
“This record is not so much about the piano, not at all about virtuosity on the instrument,” the 54-year-old Virginia native explains. “I felt I’d done that on every record I’d made. ... After that I thought, ‘I’ve really done this,’ so I want (‘Levitate’) to focus on the songs.
“So I didn’t take any solos on this record. There’s only four solos — a clarinet solo and three guitar solos. I just wanted everything to be specifically about the song and not a bunch of flashy stuff that I do. I want (‘Levitate’) to be about my band (the Noisemakers) playing.”
Hornsby has made a lot of noise this year in general. Besides “Levitate,” he scored director Spike Lee’s Kobe Bryant film “Kobe Doin’ Work.” He also contributed songs to and made an appearance in “World’s Greatest Dad,” the dark comedy directed by Bobcat Goldthwait and starring Robin Williams that features Hornsby as a recurring joke — and in a cameo as himself.
Some of “Levitate’s” tracks also will surface in “SCKBSTD,” a stage musical Hornsby says is “taking its own time to get finished, because Broadway is a whole different kind of world.”
Simply put, Hornsby’s plate is full — but, he notes, “that’s sort of been going on ever since ’86.” Which, he adds, is perfectly fine with him.
“It just feels like never-ending activity,” Hornsby notes. “Right now feels like maybe a little more active version of the same never-ending continuum of activity that’s been happening for the whole time I’ve been out. There’s just always something going on. It never ends. And I won’t complain about that.”
Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers perform at 8 p.m. Friday (Oct. 30) at SoundBoard in the MotorCity Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Blvd., Detroit. Tickets are $43 and $48. Call (313) 237-7711 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to