The good-natured 53-year-old Bruce Hornsby is a musician who wears many hats. Only last year, he teamed up with mandolinist Ricky Scaggs to record what became a much-acclaimed bluegrass disc, Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby. That CD included several traditional tunes, a handful of original compositions, and a surprising cover of Rick James's "Superfreak."
At the same time, Hornsby made Camp Meeting, his first instrumental jazz record. Credited to the Bruce Hornsby Trio, it also featured bassist Christian McBride and drummer Jack DeJohnette, two highly acclaimed instrumentalists on the modern jazz scene.
Hornsby, then, is definitely something of a serial musical collaborator. He has frequently appeared in the studio and onstage with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, with whom he recorded "I Can't Make You Love Me," as well as Leon Russell and Chaka Khan. His fans will also remember his two-year stint with the Grateful Dead in the early Nineties, when he temporarily replaced the late Brent Mydland.
Hornsby has often invited big-name musicians to share the spotlight with him. At his January 2007 fundraiser for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he asked Dead founders Mickey Hart and Bob Weir to sit in, along with former Phish member Mike Gordon. Even Wyclef Jean and Tony Bennett also made an appearance. How many working musicians could pull off that assortment?
Now he has extended his love of music to academia. At the University of Miami, he recently created a fund for songwriting studies. His connection to the school has led to this one-off concert in South Florida, at the university's BankUnited Center. Hornsby will be joined onstage by vocalists Monica Mancini and Patti Austin, blues guitarist Steve Miller, Miami's own Jon Secada, saxophonist Tom Scott, and The Late Show with David Letterman's funk bassist Will Lee. The ensemble will be backed by the Frost School's Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra. The performace should boast an eclectic set list, featuring material from Hornsby's catalogue, some touches of Latin jazz, and a few surprises.