Terence Blanchard Feat. The E-Collective: Tiny Desk Concert The New Orleans trumpeter wasn't thinking about Eric Garner, Michael Brown or #blacklivesmatter when he first assembled this funky new band. But then it became a way to ward off despair.

Tiny Desk

Terence Blanchard Feat. The E-Collective

Terence Blanchard Feat. The E-Collective: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/429766653/430036685" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

When he started to make the music that appears on his new album, trumpeter Terence Blanchard wasn't thinking of Eric Garner, Michael Brown or any of the other recent high-profile police killings of African-Americans. He was thinking of desired collaborators: Donald Ramsey, a bassist and high-school classmate; Oscar Seaton, a drummer with whom he'd worked on film projects; Fabian Almazan, the pianist of his other band; and Charles Altura, a guitarist he'd encountered online. And he was thinking about a sound different from the left-center jazz quintet he leads: something overtly funky, with electric bass and guitar and processing and human voices and dance grooves.

As the E-Collective came together — both as a band and in terms of its repertoire — it took on another guiding light. Blanchard, no stranger to political statements, saw the music as an opportunity to speak out on current events he was unable to ignore, especially as a black man. The eventual recording came to be a commentary on the treatment of minorities by American law enforcement, in the vein of the #blacklivesmatter movement. The album's title references Eric Garner's last words, "I can't breathe"; it's called Breathless.

The heavy and the party recently came together for a week-long run at a jazz club in D.C., though the mood was much more on the party side when the E-Collective stopped at NPR headquarters. The mood was relaxed and jovial from the time the group stepped into the lobby, with Englishman Chris Bailey supplying plenty of backbeats on our house drum set — though there was a moment toward the end of the set when Blanchard casually explained the project, setting up a lyrical, almost elegiac solo. This music was a modern update on jazz fusion, sure, but also one where we dance to ward off despair.

Set List

  • "Soldiers"
  • "Confident Selflessness"
  • "Breathless"

Credits

Producers: Patrick Jarenwattananon, Morgan Walker; Audio Engineer: Brian Jarboe; Videographers: Morgan Walker, Adam Wolffbrandt, Lani Milton; Assistant Producer: Elena Saavedra Buckley; photo by Lani Milton/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Kian Soltani plays a Tiny Desk Concert on March 8, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Kian Soltani

Watch a young cellist on the rise, offering music of virtuosity, sweet lyricism and a little fire from his Persian roots.

half•alive plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 21, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

half•alive

How does half•alive, known for funky earworms and synchronized dancing, translate to such a cozy space? Have the dancers sit.

Among Authors plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 20, 2019 (Olivia Falcigno/NPR). Olivia Falcigno/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Olivia Falcigno/NPR

Among Authors

Among Authors' music isn't casual; there are songs within these songs, and they're not always catchy. They'll take you on a journey worth following.

Ty Dolla $ign pays tribute to Mac Miller at the Tiny Desk (Bob Boilen/NPR). Bob Boilen/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Bob Boilen/NPR

Ty Dolla $ign Pays Tribute To Mac Miller At The Tiny Desk

While Ty Dolla $ign visited NPR to record his own Tiny Desk concert, he also performed a special tribute to his friend, the late Mac Miller.

David Crosby and The Lighthouse Band performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Nov. 29, 2018 (Cameron Pollack/NPR). Cameron Pollack/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Cameron Pollack/NPR

David Crosby & The Lighthouse Band

David Crosby, Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis and Michael League are The Lighthouse Band, and together they harmonized the heck out of the Tiny Desk.

Bas plays a Tiny Desk Concert on Jan. 15, 2019 . Amir Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amir Alfiky/NPR

Bas

Bas came to the Tiny Desk to get it, and — in a breathless four-song set — he did exactly that.

iLe plays a Tiny Desk Concert on July 23, 2019 (Olivia Falcigno/NPR). Olivia Falcigno/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Olivia Falcigno/NPR

iLe

The Calle 13 veteran, fresh off her appearance at demonstrations in Puerto Rico, performs three songs that rage with revolutionary intensity.

Calexico and Iron & Wine play a Tiny Desk Concert on June 19, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Calexico And Iron & Wine

The two bands just released Years to Burn, their first album together since 2005. Now, they've performed three songs — two new, one old — for Calexico's Tiny Desk debut.

Lizzo plays a Tiny Desk Concert on May 21, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Lizzo

Backed by a band assembled just for this occasion, the breakthrough pop icon performs three joyfully showy songs from Cuz I Love You.

Tamino plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 5, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Tamino

Tamino possesses one of the most remarkable and memorable voices to ever grace the Tiny Desk.

Back To Top