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

Magos Herrera and Brooklyn Rider perform a Tiny Desk Concert on March 6, 2019. Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Magos Herrera and Brooklyn Rider

Watch what happens when the smoky-voiced jazz singer from Mexico conspires with an adventuresome string quartet for songs steeped in Latin American traditions.

Ohmme performs at a Tiny Desk Concert on April 18, 2019 (Laura Beltrán Villamizar/NPR) Laura Beltrán Villamizar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Laura Beltrán Villamizar/NPR

Ohmme

These classically trained artists fill the NPR Music offices with shrieking, rhythmic noise that redefines what an electric guitar can do.

Thou performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 9, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Thou

This is probably the quietest you'll ever hear the first metal band to play the Tiny Desk.

Laraaji performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 8, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Laraaji

Laraaji is best known to some for his ambient work with Brian Eno in the late '70s. He brings his meditative calm to the Tiny Desk in this hypnotic performance.

Toro Y Moi performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 16, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Toro Y Moi

Toro y Moi loses the voice processing, synths and other heavy effects for a stripped-down acoustic set at the Tiny Desk.

Better Oblivion Community Center performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 3, 2019 (Amr Alfky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Better Oblivion Community Center

Tiny Desk alums Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers surprised us all with their stunning collaboration this year as Better Oblivion Community Center. Together they radiate joy at the desk.

The Calidore String Quartet performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 5, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

The Calidore String Quartet

The Calidore String Quartet confirms that the centuries-old formula — two violins, a viola and a cello — is still very much alive and evolving.

Theodore performs a Tiny Desk Concert on March 27, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Theodore

The music of Theodore is dark and transformative, with the kind of spare elegance you can hear in Sigur Rós or Pink Floyd.

Gary Clark Jr. performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 1, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Gary Clark Jr.

These three songs, from Clark's incendiary new album This Land, roar with the assurance and force of a showman at the top of his game.

Karine Polwart Trio performs a Tiny Desk Concert on March 22, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Karine Polwart Trio

Scottish singer, songwriter and essayist Karine Polwart seldom comes stateside, eschewing air travel to reduce her carbon footprint. But on a rare, recent visit, she stopped in D.C. for a Tiny Desk.

Back To Top