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Wednesday April 25, 2018

From The Village Voice

Why Terence Blanchard’s “Live” Matters
By: Larry Blumenfeld

The music on Live mostly grooves tightly, with engaging solos from pianist Almazan and guitarist Altura — the former with notable lyricism, the latter with requisite fire — and from Blanchard, who, at 56, is now a defining presence on our modern jazz landscape. But it is hardly, even in aesthetic terms, feel-good music. Most tracks stretch beyond ten minutes. “Kaos,” whose entwined melody and countermelody are, Blanchard said, meant to evoke a furious tangle of real and fake news, rides an urgent and unsettling seven-beat meter.

There are some words, uttered, not sung — triggered samples drawn from an interview with scholar, author, and activist Cornel West on two songs, and from speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X on another. But this is instrumental music, intended to tell stories through sonic imagery, sturdy themes (Blanchard excels at those), and improvisation. The narrative owes much to Blanchard’s residencies in these three communities, where, he said, “we tried to do some civic engagement. Before we played, we looked, listened, and learned.”

[…] At a panel discussion the day before that Dallas performance, Blanchard said, “People always ask us what kind of band is this, what we’re trying to do. We really don’t know what to say. That rage builds up in you, and it comes out however it’s supposed to. I don’t even try to guide it. It’s not my responsibility. I’m tired of talking. It’s about action. This is my action. This is our action.”

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