Terence Blanchard is a jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer, arranger, and film score composer.
Since Blanchard emerged on the scene in 1980 with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and then shortly thereafter with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, he has been a leading artist in jazz. He was an integral figure in the 1980’s jazz resurgence, having recorded several award-winning albums and having performed with the jazz elite.
He is known as a straight-ahead artist in the hard bop tradition but has recently developed an African-fusion style of playing that makes him unique from other trumpeters on the performance circuit. It is as a film composer that Blanchard reaches his widest audience. His trumpet can be heard on nearly fifty film scores; more than forty bear his compositional style.
Greg Bryant recently spoke with him about the release of his latest project, “Breathless” backstage at the Jazz Standard before his CD release show.
Pianist Harold Mabern is one of the true treasures of improvisational music. Born in Memphis, Tennessee and self taught as a pianist, he and his peers (George Coleman, Frank Strozier, Booker Little) developed rapidly. As he discusses in our chat, Mr. Mabern’s move to the city of Chicago after high school graduation further enhanced his pedigree. As the pianist for the MJT +3, his harmonic and rhythmic ideas were the ideal compliment to Walter Perkins and Bob Cranshaw. In this interview, Mabern speaks about these beginnings and his move to New York where he has remained a first call pianist for the last 50 years holding the piano chair with fellow luminaries such as Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and George Coleman. He began recording as a leader for Prestige Records in 1968, and his newest recording, “Afro Blue,” on the Smoke Sessions Label pairs his group with all-star vocalists Gregory Porter, Alexis Cole, Kurt Elling, Norah Jones and Jane Monheit. This CD promises to be a unique addition to his body of work and will help to further introduce him to a greater addition of listeners. Play on, Mr. Mabern!
Since his initial rise to prominence on the national music scene, Les McCann has been a vessel overflowing with creative expression. First recognized for his soulful and dynamic piano playing in the early 60s, Les grew his audience with two hit tunes (“With These Hands”, “Compared to What”) in the latter part of the decade featuring his distinctive vocals. All along the way, he always kept a high quality camera nearby. Whether in a new city, hanging after a festival set or just heading out with friends, insiders welcomed Les into various circles and he often captured the mood of the moment with a candid image. Now in 2015, several of these prime images are collected for the first time in Les’ book, “Invitation to Openness,” a collection bearing the same title as his 1972 masterwork for Atlantic Records. As I spoke with Mr. McCann, he shared memories about many of the now legendary stars that are photographed in this book, some memories about the classic LP/CD, “Invitation,” and the sharpest wit and wisdom that you’re ever likely to hear. Enjoy.
Mocean Worker combines his knowledge of real instruments with cutting edge technology to produce music that is catchy, groovy and points the way to the masters and legends that came before. He’s a bassist, he’s a producer, and as the son of producer Joel Dorn, he had first hand encounters with music legends such as Marcus Miller, Miles Davis, Les McCann, Eddie Harris, Luther Vandross and Art Neville.
On today’s episode, we sit down with Kevin Calabro, head of the indie label, Royal Potato Family – a label that promotes an eclectic mix of risktaking music for what Calabro calls, “music freaks”. Greg and Kevin discuss the future of jazz, ways for musicians to catch the attention of labels, Kevin discusses his mentor, the late Joel Dorn, and they discuss the great Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
Greg also highlights a few releases from the “Smalls Live” label, including albums from Harold Mabern, John Magnarelli, Steve Bernstein and Will Vinson.
On today’s episode, we interview saxophone virtuoso, John Ellis, who has just released a long-form composition called, “Mobro” with writer Andy Bragen. In his honor, we profile some of the lesser-celebrated jazz saxophonists of the golden era – Gene Ammons, Stanley Turrentine and Eddie Harris.