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AOTW for this week is a very mid-90’s sounding album (tone-wise), but the music is totally slamming. Bruce Hornsby’s 1995 release Hot House is a favorite in the Goold home, and for good reason. The music is a great combination of catchy grooves/melodies, with smart (even chopsy) playing.
Hot House covers a wide range of genre and style, and most of the tunes have extended jams and vamps that land each song at roughly 5 minutes or more. But the lengthy songs don’t get old or feel forced, and this is probably due to Hornsby’s history (he was a member of Jam pioneers The Grateful Dead as well as performing on countless other “Jam” records). Because of this, the record has a distinct Jam Band feel to it, but the music is much smarter than the typical Jam recording (i.e., it doesn’t have the aimless and meaningless quality of, let’s say, a String Cheese Incident record).
Another cool aspect of Hot House is the long list of guest musicians. Bela Fleck, Pat Metheny… even Jerry Garcia are all joining Hornsby on various tracks throughout the recording, and making their presences felt with killer performances.
Hornsby’s drummer on this record is John Molo, a staple Jam Band player most widely known as a member of The Other Ones (the band that most of the members of The Dead formed after Garcia died). Molo has a very solid feel, and plays on the simple side of what you would expect from a Jam Band drummer, but I love it. He seems to be totally comfortable in each of the many styles on the record… In fact, I think Hot House would probably be my top recommendation for any drummer looking to broaden their knowledge of how to play various feels. This album is also has tons of odd time signatures, and Molo keeps things solid in that department too.
My favorite track is the opener… Spider Fingers. Go listen to it and tell me it isn’t one of the coolest piano-driven songs you’ve ever heard. And, here’s a bonus video of Hornsby playing Spider Fingers, solo piano…
PS… Runner up for AOTW this week is Branford Marsalis’ Requiem. I was listening to it this morning and HOLY BUCKETS does it rule.