Terence Blanchard A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina) (4*)

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A Tale of Gods Will.jpg

I was more than slightly nonplussed when I clicked on the link that took me to After the deluge: 29 remarkable works inspired by Hurricane Katrina and found a complete absence of James Lee Burke's The Tin Roof Blow Down, a novel that burned with an almost incandescent rage (at least that's the way I recall my reaction when I read it back in the pre-blog era).

Yes, there were most of the other obvious inclusions (Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint's The River In Reverse, Dr John's City That Care Forgot and the Treme TV series) scattered among the rap, hip hop and other musical items, and I've added historian Douglas Brinkley's The Great Deluge, Dave Eggers' Zeitoun and a couple of titles by Tom Piazza (Devil Sent the Rain: Music and Writing in Desperate America, City of Refuge and Why New Orleans Matters) to the chase these up in the Kindle Store list. 

At around $30 for the DVD I'm not quite so sure about the Spike Lee documentary When The Levees Broke (2006) and it looks like the sequel If God Is Willing And The Creek Don’t Rise (2010) hasn't made it onto DVD but a reference to Terence Blanchard's A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina), based around the soundtrack compositions Blanchard contributed to When The Levee Broke had me heading over to iTunes.

While there was something familiar about the name, a quick check in my iTunes library revealed a total lack of Terence, and resulted in a bit of checking around the ridges. 

He gets a brief name check on p. 209 of Samuel Charters New Orleans: Playing a Jazz Chorus, citing him as one of the roster of talented young trumpet players who have had to leave New Orleans to make a living with their music and acknowledging his work with Spike Lee on film scores along with his own solo career.

You'd expect the odd reference in Rick Koster's Louisiana Music as well, and there they are, citing remarks by Irvin Mayfield about players including Wynton Marsalis and Blanchard who grew up with the traditional funerals and parades and are using those elements but going forward with them. It's kinda like having a big family and some of them work at a museum that's been around for years. (Location 631)

Location 828 has an eight-year-old Blanchard who'd fooled around on piano before he had an epiphany during a visit to his elementary school and subsequently focused on the trumpet, shortly before he met Wynton Marsalis and attended the New Orleans Centre for the Creative Arts, developing his molasses-smooth tone and expanding his New Orleans roots with a fascination for other types of music.

That process took him to New York and a stint with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers before forming his own sextet and heading off into film and television score work, which probably explains why there's nothing of his work in environments like the City of Dreams or Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens box sets.

I took a brief glance through the booklets that accompanied those two collections, and while I might have missed a credit in there somewhere, they're not exactly environments where you'd expect to find exponents of modern jazz or hard bop, are they?


© Ian Hughes 2012