New Release: Bruce Hornsby & Justin Vernon – Cast-Off

Photo Credit: Jenny Dove

Pianist and singer/songwriter Bruce Hornsby has shared a new song from his forthcoming album Absolute Zero. Titled Cast-Off,it was co-written with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who also sings on the track. Along with Vernon, Cast-Off features contributions from Sean Carey, Brad Cook, and others

Listen to the track here…

In a statement, Bruce Hornsby explained: ” ‘Cast-Off’ is a song about acceptance and even gratitude in the face of rejection, egolessness, patience and humility”

“This song was put together in Eau Claire, WI last April, starting with an unused film cue, developed and expanded upon in the studio with spontaneous contributions from Sean Carey (who just walked in and started singing), Jeremy Ylvisaker (playing guitar that doesn’t sound like guitar!), Mike Lewis and JT Bates on sax and drums, Brad Cook (and later Noisemaker JV Collier) on bass, and Justin and I taking turns in the vocal booth trading ideas and melodies. Pretty much, mostly concocted right there at April Base!”

Absolute Zero is out April 12th. The genesis of Absolute Zero began within Hornsby’s work as a film composer for writer-director Spike Lee. Hornsby started collaborating with Lee in 1992; ultimately, in 2008, he began scoring for Lee. What began to intrigue him were scoring components known as “cues,” those comparatively brief passages of music used in films to heighten certain narrative visuals and/or spoken developments. Additionally, Hornsby’s interest in literary fiction, specifically the work of Don DeLillo and the late David Foster Wallace, inspired his songwriting

Hornsby’s songs, both in spirit and memory, function collectively as a homage to fiction writing that, while often poetic, takes no prisoners. The multi-faceted album is another example of Hornsby’s constant musical evolution and how he’s able to combine disparate elements into an accessible soundscape. A few years ago, Hornsby met Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. “I kept getting these Google Alerts where he shouted me out in the press,” Hornsby says. In time, other musicians praised Hornsby’s work, including Brandon Flowers, who asked him to play on his solo album. In the indie-rock zeitgeist, Bruce Hornsby became a thing

After Hornsby began working with Vernon, the Wisconsinite invited Hornsby to perform at his Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival. “I’d played a thousand-and-one festivals over the years,” Hornsby says. “This one was by far the most beautiful experience for me. They had a modern classical stage where you could hear Frederic Rzewski pieces. Everything was artful and beautiful, so great.” Before Hornsby played, The Staves and yMusic appeared. “So I’m listening to this British female vocal trio and Brooklyn chamber music group, going ‘Whoa, who is this?”” Hornsby says. “I loved the women, the chamber music group, the whole thing. What they were doing together was adventurous, a different sound”

Hornsby’s discoveries that evening ultimately circled back to Williamsburg, where over the last years he has hosted his own festival. After Eaux Claires, Hornsby invited yMusic and The Staves to appear at the Williamsburg event. “That’s when I met them,” he says. “We hit it off and became friends. I asked them to play on what became Absolute Zero. We did a session with yMusic in New York. We worked on six pieces; five ended up on the record. It just went from there. yMusic’s leader Rob Moose started doing some things on his own on some new songs that I would write. Rob arranging on his own – where he puts down twenty different string parts (‘Give me another one! OK, there’s that. Another track! Another track!’) – is quite something to see, working his magic in the studio”

Predominantly produced by Hornsby, the 10-track album includes added production from Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Tony Berg (Phoebe Bridgers, Andrew Bird, Public Image Ltd.) and Brad Cook (Sharon Van Etten, Hiss Golden Messenger). Absolute Zero also includes musical contributions from yMusic, The Staves, Blake Mills, Jack DeJohnette, Sean Carey, the The Orchestra of St. Hanks (Frost School/Univ. of Miami), Hornsby’s longtime band The Noisemakers and more

Hornsby is set for a run of U.S. tour dates with The Noisemakers, including intimate showcase performances at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust and Los Angeles’ Troubadour, and more. Tickets went on sale on March 1 and are available at BruceHornsby.com

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