Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Tom Harrell
Jazz Around Town: As the countdown to XRIJF goes on, the jazz continues ....

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Terence Blanchard Quintet

June 25th, Kilbourn Hall @ 6:00 & 10:00 pm

Terance Blanchard, a four-time Grammy award winning trumpet player, began playing piano at the age of five and then the trumpet at age eight upon hearing Alvin Alcorn play.  With more than twenty-nine albums bearing his name, Blanchard is a five-time Grammy winner. I'm looking forward to his June 25th appearance in Kilbourn with his Quintet.

Playing alongside childhood friend Wynton Marsalis in summer music camps, it was only in high school, when young Terance Blanchard began studying at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts under Roger Dickerson and Ellis Marsalis, Jr. that his talent began to shine. From 1980 to 1982, Blanchard studied while touring with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra until, in 1982, Wynton Marsalis recommended him take his place in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengersm. With Blakey and as co-leader of a quintet with saxophonist Donald Harrison and pianist Mulgrew Miller, Blanchard rose as a key figure in the 1980s "Jazz Resurgence" the Harrison/Blanchard group recorded five albums from 1984-1988 until /Blanchard left to pursue a solo career in 1990.

Terence Blanchard
Photo Credit: Jenny Bagert

In the 1990s, he recorded his self-titled debut for Columbia Records, which reached third on the Billboard Jazz Charts and also performed on soundtracks for Spike Lee movies, including Do the Right Thing and Mo' Better Blues, after which Lee asked Blanchard to compose the scores for his films. He has written the score for every Spike Lee film since. In 2006, he composed the score for Spike Lee's 4-hour Hurricane Katrina documentary for HBO entitled When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. The catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina was a cauldron from which spring further creative expression Blanchard’s song cycle, A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina), a 13-track "emotional tour de force of anger, rage, compassion, melancholy and beauty." The Blue Note CD from that project features Blanchard’s quintet—pianist Aaron Parks, saxophonist Brice Winston, bassist Derrick Hodge, drummer Kendrick Scott—as well as a 40-member string orchestra. 

Blanchard's latest disc, Choices, the new CD was released on Concord Jazz. Recorded in Blanchard's hometown of New Orleans at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Choices addresses the choices we make in life, both as a society and on a personal level. Accompanying Blanchard on the album are longstanding band members Fabian Almazan on piano, Derrick Hodge on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums, along with newcomer Walter Smith III on saxophone, all of whom wrote significant track contributions to the CD as well. Guest artists include writer, speaker, educator and activist Dr. Cornel West, critically-acclaimed guitarist and Blanchard protg Lionel Loueke, and singer, musician and composer Bilal. West performs spoken word pieces on the album with Bilal providing vocals on several of the tracks.

Here's a video from February of this year of music from Choices played by the Quintet in the Greene Space in NOLA:

Here's a video with excerpts from a 2007 PBS interview with Blanchard about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and watch his Quintet in performance at Blues Alley in Washington, DC playing music from the Grammy award-winning CD, A Tale of God's Will:

Terance Blanchard is on Twitter and Facebook.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

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