Terence Blanchard ended his three-day residency at the University of Virginia in spectacular fashion on Saturday evening. He and the university’s jazz band’s treated a full house in Old Cabell Auditorium to a gem of a concert. (The photo below is from the sound check, a couple hours before the gig.)
A couple days ago, in a post about Blanchard’s rehearsals with the jazz band, I said that great music is sometimes heard only by the musicians making it. And there’s no doubt that some of the music-making in those rehearsals was beautiful. But Blanchard was clearly pacing himself, during the rehearsals. On Saturday evening, he unleashed a torrent of musical energy, taking the jazz band with him. The result was alternately thrilling and moving, and sometimes it was both.
For all of the superb music that I heard on Saturday, there were some truly extraordinary moments. The first was the jazz band’s fine reading of Blanchard’s arrangements of some of Duke Ellington’s film music--"Anatomy of a Murder" and "Degas’ Racing World" (from an unreleased documentary on the painter). Blanchard pays homage to Duke, without falling into mere imitation. (He recorded these arrangements on his 1999 CD Jazz In Film, available on Sony Classical.)
After intermission, Blanchard’s deeply moving solos on “Ashe” and “In Time of Need,” two lamentations from his 2007 Blue Note CD A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina), were so powerful that the concert really should have ended right there. Those were the sounds that I wanted to have in my ears as I walked through the night to my car.