A Tale of God's Will: Terence Blanchard (2007)
The full title is A Tale of God’s Will (a requiem for Katrina). Apparently this album grew out from the soundtrack Terence did for Spike Lee’s HBO documentary When the Levees Broke. Terence has a very nice sound on trumpet and seems to be doing well in the composition department too.
There are several nice things about this album. First is just that it’s so seamlessly put together. It has a flow and grace that’s big and easy, as they say in some parts. And, although the album was constructed around the experience of the devastation of New Orleans by hurricane Katrina, it’s a surprisingly graceful, open, and serene album. It takes it’s time; and rather than batter you with more obvious musical suggestions of loss, it weaves it’s story slowly, subtly, and into larger soundscapes that get very close to orchestral symphony territory.
And that’s another nice thing about this album. I always appreciate when music crosses genres, and some of the Jazz greats I admire like Mingus always strove to create larger compositions. This album does both. Many tracks start with fairly straightforward symphonic introductions (the 40 piece Northwest Sinfonia is credited), and then remarkably seamlessly grow into jazz. And the album as a whole is constructed to communicate the course of the devastation.
This album has soul in the spiritual sense. Another thing that I feel elevates this form of music. I'm not particularly an active pursuer of things spiritual, but when someone can communicate anything beyond the observational world, I view that as art.
I don’t really understand composition or music theory at all. I find it odd that it one of the first adjectives I reach for when trying to describe jazz that I like is whether it is ‘accessible’. Well, this is a completely accessible listen. There's not a lot of variation, no pulsing highs or painful lows, its high quality moderation. Yet, I think you can continue to draw depth out of it on repeat listenings. It’s still a new album to me, only a couple spins.
There’s a few points where I think the album veers close to Musak/easy listening/smooth jazz territory, which would be a bad thing in my opinion, but it doesn’t cross the line and manages to pull back with some touching depth. Not sure if this album will stand the test of time, but I suspect it will hold up well.
(His previous album Bounce is also good and a more uptempo traditional modern jazz.)
I’m linking to a sample track, In the Time of Need (flac. 40Mb). This one doesn’t have the symphonic component than many tracks do. Hope all 2 of the downloaders enjoy. ;-)
A Tale of God's Will is incredible. Terence Blanchard made me feel the sorrow of the disaster in the song "Levees".
Last edited by JohnMichael; 07-10-2008 at 05:13 AM.
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