Terence Blanchard Quintet at Jazz Alley
The choice of tunes was great -- some material from the new album, complete with synths and drone, and some classic material like I Thought About You, played almost as slow as I've ever heard a ballad. Lionel Loueke, a guitarist from Benin, had an interesting mix of acoustic and synthetic guitar sounds that really adds to the core quintet sound -- even simulating a Hammond organ at times. Aaron Parks on piano, a friend from my Manhattan School of Music days and another of Seattle's jazz products, sounded fabulous as always, stretching into different territory with his new Roland V-Synth. Brice Winston, who I've been listening to on record for a long time but never heard live, has great energy, style, and depth; this guy certainly fills the saxophone chair in this band with more than just his presence. Kendrick Scott and Derrick Hodge filled out the rhythm section -- I didn't know Hodge before tonight, but I've heard Kendrick many times in New York and Boston, and he certainly plays with lots of finesse and taste, but also gives some punch when needed. If you get a chance to hear these guys, the unmistakeable influence of Herbie Hancock on this band is certainly felt, but that show was all about Terence Blanchard. While he's spent many years honing his skills as a film composer, the dramatic effect this has had on his jazz playing and composing continues to stretch and expand his style away from the "neo-conservative" or "young lion" sound that he helped to define in the early 80s. And did I mention that he really can play the trumpet? I mean, really get around the trumpet! Terence is one of the few guys out there that I just don't hear making silly technical mistakes -- his sound is gorgeous, his technique impeccable, and his fearlessness unparalleled (except maybe by early Freddie Hubbard). Terence: keep it coming, and I'll be there with bells on.