Terence Blanchard Quintet: Live At The Village Vanguard The New Orleans trumpeter is known as a film composer for Spike Lee, and as a standard-bearer of modern jazz innovation. He brings his quintet into lower Manhattan.

Terence Blanchard. John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com hide caption

toggle caption
John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com

Terence Blanchard.

John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com

Live At The Village Vanguard

Terence Blanchard QuintetWBGO

Terence Blanchard Quintet in Concert at the Village Vanguard - 02/18/2009

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/100771911/100865759" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Many Americans have heard Terence Blanchard's music, even if they don't know it — he's scored many of Spike Lee's films since the early '90s. But only a relative few have connected Blanchard the movie composer with Blanchard the acclaimed jazz trumpeter, who combines a love for the music of his native New Orleans with modern hard bop and a spirit of innovation. In the latter capacity, Blanchard brought his quintet north into New York's Village Vanguard, for a performance broadcast live on air by WBGO and live online here at NPR Music.

Blanchard and his band performed nearly uninterrupted for well over an hour, pausing only for introductions mid-set. The night began with slow, dirge-like paeans from Blanchard's latest album A Tale of God's Will (inspired by post-Katrina New Orleans), which morphed into a panoply of energized rhythms and settings. Blanchard's trumpet shone throughout, from airy puffs slurred together into caliginous solos to vibrant, high-note acrobatics.

Backing him was an unfalteringly precise band of relatively young artists. Bassist Derrick Hodge is also a film composer and hip-hop producer; drummer Kendrick Scott also appeared in the previous Village Vanguard broadcast with Kurt Rosenwinkel, and manages his own record label. The rest of the band featured fairly new additions in pianist Fabian Almazan, trained in Cuba and Miami, and saxophonist Walter Smith III, who was playing his first substantial gig with the group.

As a young musician, Blanchard got his first big break from another New Orleans trumpeter. Wynton Marsalis recommended Blanchard to drummer Art Blakey; Blanchard soon became the musical director of the Jazz Messengers for several years in the 1980s. Not long after he left Blakey to pursue a solo career, Blanchard began to score films. He's since amassed more than 10 jazz albums and more than 25 film soundtracks, and he's currently working on a new recording. Since 2000, Blanchard has also been the artistic director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, and lobbied successfully to move the headquarters to his hometown of New Orleans.

Blanchard's latest album merges his various artistic pursuits with profound inspiration: A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina) features his quintet backed by a 40-person string orchestra. After Spike Lee asked Blanchard to score his four-hour documentary When the Levees Broke, Blanchard was inspired to fill out an album's worth of music. The resulting disc won the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.

"It was probably the most difficult artistic project that I've ever been associated with," Blanchard told NPR's Neal Conan in 2007.

Blanchard was fresh off his greatest national exposure yet. He recently won another Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo ("Be-Bop," from a live performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2007), and performed that night with an eclectic New Orleans lineup of Lil Wayne, Allen Toussaint and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. This Village Vanguard concert marked Blanchard's second nationally broadcast performance in as many weeks, though compared to the Grammy ceremony, he performed at significantly greater length.

Set List
  • "Levees"
  • "Funeral Dirge"
  • "Wandering Wonder"
  • "Fred Brown"
  • "Bounce"
Personnel
  • Terence Blanchard, trumpet
  • Walter Smith, tenor saxophone
  • Fabian Almazan, piano
  • Derrick Hodge, bass
  • Kendrick Scott, drums
Credits
  • Josh Jackson, producer and host
  • David Tallacksen, mix engineer
  • Josh Webb, recording assistant
[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Frans Schellekens/Redferns/Getty Images

Don Pullen On Piano Jazz

The brilliant pianist played church music and R&B before joining Charles Mingus' band and forming his own quartet. He joins Marian McPartland for a song in this 1989 episode.

Don Pullen On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/570834686/570846392" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Claudio Roditi, photographed in 1990. David Redfern/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption David Redfern/Getty Images

Claudio Roditi On Piano Jazz

The versatile trumpeter made his way from Brazil to the New York jazz scene in the 1970s. Hear him perform with host Marian McPartland in this 1996 episode.

Claudio Roditi On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/567716375/567717240" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Ellyn Rucker at Ivory's Piano Bar in Denver on Apr. 22, 1984. Duane Howell/Denver Post via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Duane Howell/Denver Post via Getty Images

Ellyn Rucker On Piano Jazz

On this 1993 episode, the versatile vocalist and pianist joins host Marian McPartland to play the title song from her album This Heart Of Mine.

Ellyn Rucker On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/564710563/564713341" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Grover Washington Jr. performs on stage during the "One Night With Blue Note" concert in New York on Feb. 22, 1985. Anthony Barboza/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

How Grover Washington Jr. Defined And Transcended 'Smooth Jazz'

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

In this radio episode, Jazz Night in America takes you to a tribute concert honoring the late musician, whose soulful sound was more than just "smooth."

How Grover Washington Jr. Defined And Transcended 'Smooth Jazz'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/564442111/564555947" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Gurtman and Murtha Artist Management

Ruth Laredo On Piano Jazz

Hear "America's First Lady of the Piano" explore the boundaries between classical music and jazz with host Marian McPartland in this 2004 episode.

Ruth Laredo On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/562620476/562624249" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jimmy Greene. Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist

Jimmy Greene Remembers A 'Beautiful Life'

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

The saxophonist's 2014 album was dedicated to the memory of his 6-year-old daughter, killed in the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. Hear his quartet perform the genre-spanning music in concert.

Jimmy Greene's 'Beautiful Life'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/418925379/418929187" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Teri Thornton, photographed on Jan. 1, 1990. Andrew Lepley/Redferns/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Andrew Lepley/Redferns/Getty Images

Teri Thornton On Piano Jazz

Revisit this 1999 episode of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, featuring the late vocalist and pianist a year before she lost her battle with cancer.

Teri Thornton On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/561711244/561802316" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Frank Stewart

Louis Hayes Celebrates His 80th Birthday In A Packed Jazz Club

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Jazz Night in America takes you to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, where the hard-bop drummer celebrated his debut as a band leader and talked about fond memories and favorite sessions.

Louis Hayes Celebrates His 80th Birthday In A Packed Jazz Club

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/561069637/561555776" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The Nate Smith Band performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 14, 2017. (Christina Ascani/NPR) Christina Ascani/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Christina Ascani/NPR

Review

Tiny Desk

Nate Smith + KINFOLK

The drums take center stage at this Tiny Desk. Watch veteran jazz percussionist Nate Smith dazzle the NPR audience in a transfixing performance.

Back To Top