The Kennedy Center

Terence Blanchard


Terence Blanchard (trumpet) is one of the most important musician/composer/band leaders of his generation. His emotionally moving and technically refined playing is considered by many jazz aficionados to recall earlier jazz trumpet styles. 

Born March 13, 1962, in New Orleans, the young Blanchard was encouraged by his father, Joseph Oliver, to learn to play the piano. In the third grade he discovered jazz trumpet when a big band, featuring Alvin Alcorn on trumpet, played at a school assembly. In his teens Blanchard attended the New Orleans Center of Creative Arts, where he studied and played with saxophonist Donald Harrison. While performing with Lionel Hampton's bib band, he studied for two years at Rutgers University.

Harrison and Blanchard replaced Wynton and Branford Marsalis in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (1982) and the next years, as leaders, recorded New York Second Line. The recording won the French Grand prix du disque. The compositions and solo talents of Blanchard and Harrison on the disc New York Scene (1984) helped bring a Grammy to the Jazz Messengers. In 1984 the team formed their own quintet and made several recordings, including Discernment (1985) and Black Pearl (1988). Since 1991 Mr. Blanchard has made several recordings as bandleader, including The Heart Speaks (1996, Columbia/Sony). He also participated in the recording Color and Light: Jazz Sketches on Sondheim (1995). His CD Jazz in Film, with Joe Henderson, Donald Harrison, Kenny Kirkland, Steve Turre, Carl Allen and Reginald Veal, merges the powerful world of jazz with classic movie scores such as Duke Ellington's Anatomy of A Murder, Quincy Jones's The Pawn Broker and Jerry Goldsmith's Chinatown. The jazz/gospel release Jubilant with opera/spiritual singer Jubilant Sykes, uses Blanchard own arrangements.. Both are on the Sony Classical label. The album Wandering Moon (Sony Classical, 2000), features Blanchard performing his own compositions with Branford Marsalis, Brice Winston, Aaron Fletcher, Edward Simon, Dave Holland and Eric Harland.

In recognition of his exemplary work as a trumpeter, bandleader, and composer, Terence Blanchard received three top awards from Down Beat Magazine for the year 2000: "Jazz Artist of the Year," "Jazz Album of the Year" for Wandering Moon, and "Jazz Trumpeter of the Year." Mr. Blanchard's CD Let's Get Lost features the great standards of legendary composer American popular song artist Jimmy McHugh newly interpreted by Diana Krall, Jane Monheit, Dianne Reeves and Cassandra Wilson. Blue Note released Blanchard's critically acclaimed Bounce in 2003.  In June 2005, Blue Note released Blanchard's Flow, produced by Grammy Award-winner Herbie Hancock. Who appears on two of the album's tracks-- "Benny's Tune" and "The Source." 

Blanchard is well known as a performer and musical composer for films, including several by Spike Lee. For Lee's film Mo' Better Blues (1990) Blanchard was musical arranger and a trumpet coach for actor Denzel Washington. Among other Blanchard film compositions are scores for Malcolm X (1993) and Clockers (1995). He scored Jungle Fever, Spike Lee's 1997 Oscar(r) nominated documentary Four Little Girls and the critically acclaimed MCA/Universal release Eve's Bayou. Mr. Blanchard also performs on the soundtrack for the film Things You Can Tell By Looking At Her and was featured on the soundtrack for the film Random Hearts (Sony Classical). Mr. Blanchard has also contributed music or written the full score for the film projects: Love and Basketball; Bamboozled, produced by Spike Lee; The Truth About Jane; Caveman's Valentine; It's A Girl Thing; Original Sin starring Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas, and Bojangles.

Mr. Blanchard has become artistic director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at the University of Southern California. Terence Blanchard appeared at the Kennedy Center in March 2001 with his Quintet, with Diane Reeves in "Let's Get Lost" in March 2003, and with his sextet in October 2003 featuring songs from his Blue Note debut, Bounce.

Last updated: March 1, 2007
Terance Blanchard by Nitin Vadukul

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