A Seattle Jazz Scene Preview
For more information, visit www.bellevuejazz.com.
Whether intentional or not, the organizers of the 2010 Bellevue Jazz Festival could not have picked a more appropriate headline act than trumpeter Terence Blanchard. His career represents all the aspirations of the three-year-old festival, to be commercially successful, critically respected, and to be involved and invested in its community’s culture and education.
Blanchard, who performs Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Theatre at Meydenbauer Center, is 48 years old, a composer, arranger, band leader, and teacher. A native of New Orleans, he grew up in the same circles as the Marsalis family. Wynton Marsalis was the one who recommend that Blanchard replace him as a member of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, considered then to be the ultimate finishing school for jazz music’s most promising talent.
He moved to New York and lived in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood, considered then to be the African-American SoHo, with neighbors like the film director Spike Lee, who asked Blanchard to play trumpet for some of his films like “Mo’ Better Blues,” about a jazz trumpet player. That led to Blanchard writing the score for “Jungle Fever,” and his lucrative career composing music for films took off.
Of course, Blanchard continued to perform and record his own albums, riding a graceful line between hard bop and more traditional standards. He earned his reputation as a serious composer with his Grammy Award-winning album, “A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina),” his musical reflections and interpretation of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Going a step further, as artistic director of the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz, he persuaded leadership to relocate the school from Los Angeles to his hometown of New Orleans, doing his part to restore the rich artistic tapestry of his city.