Monday, September 03, 2007


Terence Blanchard’s A Tale Of God’s Will (A Requiem For Katrina), a beautifully haunting and impassioned song-cycle about the physical and emotional ravages incurred upon the City of New Orleans and its residents as a result of Hurricane Katrina, was recently released by Blue Note Records on August 14th. Featuring thirteen original compositions written by Blanchard and members of his band, A Tale of God’s Will is an evocative emotional journey of a city whose spirit lives on through the most devastating of circumstances - as told through the musical genius of one of New Orleans’ proudest residents – Terence Blanchard.

Recorded at Conway Studios in Los Angeles and Studio X and Bastyr University Chapel in Seattle, A Tale of God’s Will features a 40 piece orchestra string section in addition to Blanchard’s band (Derrick Hodge on bass, Aaron Parks on piano, Kendrick Scott on drums and Brice Winston on saxophone). While specific tracks from the CD were originally written for the Levees documentary, both the creative process for scoring the film and the physical experience of living through Katrina itself left no doubt in Blanchard’s mind that his next CD project would be a musical expression and expansion of these, of having gone through the Hurricane itself as well as through the aftermath of this terrible event, and that he would be helping to contribute to the rebuilding of the city - both musically and otherwise – in any way that he could.

“This moment must be seen,” says Blanchard, “Has to be seen by those people around the world who don’t know what has happened here. What is happening here. Yes. Still.”

Blanchard also called upon the talents of his bandmates to create music for the new CD – as heard on Derrick Hodge’s “Over There”, Aaron Park’s “Ashe”, Kendrick Scott’s “Mantra” and Brice Winston’s “In Time of Need”. Each track was written by the individual band member and offers their own unique perspective of the tragedy in New Orleans, yet all of the music flows together seamlessly to create an unbelievably poignant and inspiring whole work.

The past year has been an incredibly prolific one for the world-renowned film composer and trumpet player on a number of other levels as well. While working on A Tale of God’s Will, Blanchard also played a pivotal role in the moving of The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz from Los Angeles to New Orleans, a move that as Artistic Director he feels will benefit not only the city of New Orleans, but the students themselves who will be surrounded by the ever-present rich diversity of music in the Crescent City. In addition, Blanchard was chosen by the Monterey Jazz Festival to be their honorary Artist-In-Residence for 2007, teaching at the institute there several times throughout the year and of course performing all weekend at the upcoming festival itself in September of 2007.

July will see the release of Talk To Me, acclaimed Director Kasi Lemmon’s new film based on the life of radical disc jockey and political activist Petey Greene, played by Don Cheadle. Blanchard’s score for Talk To Me will be his 41st film score, following on the heels of Levees as well as his groundbreaking work for Universal Pictures/Imagine Entertainment’s Inside Man, in which he called upon the talents of not only his band, but an 80-piece orchestra.

Besides performing for sold-out audiences around the globe, Terence was a featured panelist and performer at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and served as a keynote speaker at the Billboard Film and Television Music Conference. One week out of every month finds Terence teaching at the Monk Institute, and he just recently performed at the 2007 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Flow: Living In The Stream of Music, the critically-acclaimed documentary that followed Terence and his band across four continents, was nominated for a Grammy (Best Long-form Music Video) in the 49th Annual Grammy Awards (his critically-acclaimed CD, Flow, was the recipient of two Grammy nominations in 2006).

Blanchard was born in New Orleans on March 13, 1962, and began playing piano at 5 years of age. In elementary school, he added on the trumpet and was coached at home by his opera-singing father. In high school, Terence came under the tutelage of Ellis Marsalis and Roger Dickerson, and after graduation, attended Rutger’s University on a music scholarship where one of his professors was so impressed by his talent that he brokered him a touring gig with Lionel Hampton’s band.

In '83, Wynton Marsalis recommended Terence as his replacement in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Part of the Blakey legend was his ability to foster performances and individual personalities from the young, malleable talents he brought into his fold. Blakey utilized and nurtured the improvisation and compositional ideas of his band members to solidify his own unique artistic vision. The legacy of the working band as jazz workshop is at the essence of jazz, and Terence remains one of the few on the scene today who fully embrace that dynamic.

Two years later, Terence and fellow Messenger Donald Harrison split to form their own quintet. In '90, TB departed to pursue a solo career. During his tenure at Columbia, both his soundtrack to Mo’ Better Blues and his CD The Heart Speaks were nominated for Grammy Awards. Signed to the Sony Classical label in 1999, the trumpeter/composer gained acclaim as a bandleader and composer of movie and television soundtracks (including the Grammy-nominated Wandering Moon and a Golden Globe nomination for his score for Spike Lee’s The 25th Hour). In 2003 Terence signed with Blue Note Records and has released Bounce and Flow, the first two parts of a three-record trilogy.

Additional films that Terence has written the music for include Eve’s Bayou, Malcolm X, Barbershop, Their Eyes Were Watching God and Clockers.

The release of A Tale of God’s Will will be accompanied by a worldwide tour with Terence and his band, as well as dates featuring guest appearances by Spike Lee focusing on their film work together and in particular, the music of When the Levees Broke.

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