One can argue there are two camps of jazz musicians— those who are enjoying success by engaging with popular music, specifically hip-hop; and those who are cast in the conservative mold à la Wynton Marsalis. The latter may come off as dry and uninteresting to younger listeners, but a welcome return to the bygone days of predictable structure that older jazz musicians may miss. So, what happens when you get that traditional background and put it in front of a wide audience?
He’s perhaps the most fitting of this example because he actually grew up alongside the Marsalis family, playing with Wynton in youth camps and taking classes under his father, Ellis. Before he was 20, Blanchard was touring with Lionel Hampton, and in 1982 Wynton recommended his childhood friend replace him in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. With Blakey’s legendary group, Blanchard performed as lead soloist and worked as the musical director. Before long, Blanchard was leading his own groups.
His major entrance into the popular conscious came through his work with film. Spike Lee Joints are as known for their music as they are for their stories, and the acclaimed director featured Blanchard in the music of almost every one of his films, including his critical-darling of a debut, Do the Right Thing. Mr. Blanchard not only performed on Lee’s early work, but he actually composed the scores for each of his films since 1991’s Jungle Fever. His work in film has persisted well into the 21st century, too; in 2012 he wrote the soundtrack for the movie Red Tails.
He has also been nominated for four Grammys, notching four wins off of 11 nominations.
Throughout his career, Blanchard has performed and recorded with a number of influential legends, including Abbey Lincoln and J.J. Johnson. Most recently, he has injected his music with a distinctly electric vibe. This is evident on his most recent release, Breathless (Blue Note, 2015), which features a new outfit called the E-Collective.
from Emmanuel Garcia http://ift.tt/1MZifkN