3

Bruce Hornsby: Non-Secure Connection

Geno Thackara By

Sign in to view read count
Bruce Hornsby: Non-Secure Connection
It's hard to imagine Bruce Hornsby's listeners being fazed much by anything he does anymore. Harmonic layers of semi-processed voice drones in an ambient haze? Classy strings crossed with jarringly angular piano and over-jokey lyrics about internet girls? After a career that's touched on jazz and bluegrass as prominently as folk and classical, his familiar crowd knows how to take it all in stride. He could attempt perhaps the most smoove-jiving half-sincere-half-parody R&B pastiche ever, and hardly anyone would bat an eye. Oh, hang on—he does that here also.

Though that particular moment is one of his most gleefully over-the-top to date, it's a perfectly straight-faced one with the cast genuinely having heaps of fun, and of course nothing could have gone far wrong with the inimitable Leon Russell on board (Hornsby heard some further potential in the track he first co-wrote and demoed with Russell in the late '80s, and it's hard to say he's wrong). On top of that, the title "Anything Can Happen" will possibly become the most quintessential of his career. By that point in the set we've also heard some simple balladry, catchy string-tinged pop and a joyful trip-hop-funk jam to pack a dance floor in half a minute flat. Clearly the ideas still kept flying thick and fast after the wildly eclectic stew of Absolute Zero (Zappo, 2019). If this followup doesn't throw in the kitchen sink quite as completely, he's still clearing plates and loading the dishwasher.

Non-Secure Connection (like much of Hornsby's catalogue as a whole) succeeds because he's not actually setting out to shock or defy expectations. Clearly the only concern is following ideas that seem fun and interesting, not worrying about how anyone might react. As usual, this batch of ideas again provides space for some top-shelf collaborators—familiar returning names like the Noisemakers and Justin Vernon are joined by Jamila Woods, Vernon Reid, and notably the Shins' James Mercer on the strong, hooky anthem "My Resolve." As always, it's the best kind of feedback loop where everyone is happy to push each other somewhere new and unexpected.

Hornsby remains unafraid to bend the ear with weird harmonies—exactly twice as much as on Zero, as he amusingly observes. Still, challenging spots like the appropriately twisted "Shit's Crazy Out Here" are handily outnumbered by pieces intriguing and approachable—in one way or another, at least—for all their smarts. Things fittingly close in a fast-driving burst of optimism with "No Limits" (another definitive title, that) declaring that Hornsby is never done taking us all for a ride. If the outside world isn't getting any less nuts, clearly the best response is to keep going creatively crazy enough to match it.

Track Listing

Cleopatra Drones; Time, the Thief; Non-Secure Connection; The Rat King; My Resolve; Bright Star Cast; Shit’s Crazy Out Here; Anything Can Happen; Porn Hour; No Limits.

Personnel

Bruce Hornsby: piano; Chad Wright: drums; Gibb Droll: guitar; J.V. Collier: bass; J.T. Thomas: keyboards; John Mailander: violin; Rob Moose: violin; Mike Lewis: bass; J.T. Bates: drums; Hideaki Aomori: clarinet.

James Mercer: vocals (5); Jamila Woods: vocals (6); Vernon Reid: guitar (6); Leon Russell: vocals (8).

Album information

Title: Non-Secure Connection | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Zappo Productions

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read What Comes Next
What Comes Next
Peter Bernstein
Read A Silent Play in the Shadow of Power
A Silent Play in the Shadow of Power
Bruno Parrinha/Abdul Moimême/Carlos Santos
Read Suite!
Suite!
Roberto Magris
Read Jammin' With KC
Jammin' With KC
Sylwester Ostrowski
Read Rhythm City
Rhythm City
Ptah Williams, Larry Kornfeld, Rob Silverman
Read Stringers & Struts
Stringers & Struts
Rempis/Parker/Flaten/Cunningham
Read Live In Maui
Live In Maui
Jimi Hendrix Experience

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.