Terence Blanchard is a six-time Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter, composer and music educator who in 2019 received an Oscar nomination for best original score for Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. Blanchard has been named the first Kenny Burrell Chair in Jazz Studies at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, which was established to honor Burrell, a legendary jazz guitarist and composer, as well as the founder and director of jazz studies at UCLA from 1996 to 2016.
Blanchard, a veteran of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, is a musical polymath who launched his solo career as a bandleader in the 1990s. Since then he has released 20 solo albums, composed more than 60 film scores, and received 10 major commissions. Among these works are two critically-acclaimed operas in jazz commissioned by the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis – Champion which debuted in 2013, as well as the recently premiered Fire Shut Up In My Bones based on the memoir by Charles Blow (Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times). Blanchard has also composed work for Broadway revivals, plays, dance performances, and for national orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
In addition to Blanchard’s recent Oscar nod for the score for BlacKkKlansman, he also won his sixth Grammy for the haunting main theme from the film, “Blut Und Boden (Blood and Soil),” in the Best Instrumental category. A recipient of the 2019 BMI Icon Award, Blanchard became a go-to composer for film beginning in the early 1990s, so much so that Entertainment Weekly called Blanchard “central to a general resurgence of jazz composition for film.” His credits include Lee classics Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, 25th Hour as well as Lee’s 2006 post-Katrina HBO documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. Some of Blanchard’s other film credits include Black or White starring Kevin Costner and directed by Mike Binder; the Kasi Lemmons’ films, Eve’s Bayou and the upcoming Harriet (opening November 1); George Lucas’ Red Tails; and Tim Story’s Barbershop.
His latest projects include his new album Live, featuring seven songs recorded live in concert with his current quintet, the E-Collective. The album is a powerful musical statement concerning painful American tragedies from the past and present, and addresses critical issues, among them the staggering cyclical epidemic of U.S. gun violence. The album is also an impassioned continuation of the band’s Grammy-nominated 2015 studio recording, Breathless, which includes a title track written with the “Eric Garner ‘I can’t breathe’ NYPD chokehold in mind,” says Blanchard.
Blanchard is also working with choreographer Rennie Harris on “Caravan: A Revolution on the Road,” which premiered in Dallas this past spring. This collaboration brings together live musical performance by Terence and his band the E-Collective coupled with choreography and dance by Rennie Harris and his company with visual projections, sculpture and projection mapping by Andrew Scott.
Blanchard’s evening of film music, “The Movie Music of Terence Blanchard featuring the E-Collective,“ is also presented throughout the year, an exploration of Jazz in Film featuring noir-nuanced renditions of motion picture music spanning from the 1950’s through today including selections from Blanchard’s own compositions. The performances feature three guest vocalist performances and well as specially designed images of the films projected throughout the evening.
Later this year Blanchard will also pay tribute to his mentor Art Blakey with the staging of “AB-Squared.” An evening of Blakey’s music, Blakey is also known for developing and nurturing the next generation of jazz voices – a practice that Blanchard follows closely.
An avid music educator, Blanchard served as artistic director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (now named the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz) from 2000 to 2011. In this role, he presented masterclasses and worked with students in the areas of artistic development, arranging, composition and career counseling.
In 2011, Blanchard was named artistic director of the Henry Mancini Institute at the University of Miami. In the fall of 2015, he was named a visiting scholar in jazz composition at Berklee College of Music. He holds honorary doctorates from the Manhattan School of Music (2017), Skidmore College (2012), and Xavier University (2012). He was awarded a prestigious USA Fellowship in 2018.