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Terence Blanchard among Jazz and Rib Fest headliners

News Desk | 7/10/2014, 9:18 a.m.
After taking on projects that are so large in scope, returning to the touring circuit with his band in a ...
Terence Blanchard

Terence Blanchard, Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter, bandleader and composer, will be among the headliners at this year’s Jazz and Rib Fest, which will be held Friday, July 18, through Sunday, July 20, on three outdoor stages in the Arena District in downtown Columbus. Blanchard will perform on the American Electric Power Stage on Friday at 9:30 p.m.

Blanchard is touring in support of his 20th album, “Magnetic.” The album is based on Blanchard’s concept of “spiritual magnetism,” which is based on his Christian upbringing and conversion in recent years to Buddhism.

“I’ve always believed that in life, what you keep in your mind is what you draw to yourself,” Blanchard said.

Since first writing music for Spike Lee’s 1990 jazz movie “Mo’ Better Blues,” starring Denzel Washington, Blanchard has become a renowned film composer with more than 50 scores to his credit. Most recently, Blanchard composed the score for the World War II drama “Red Tails” for producer George Lucas.

This summer, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Jazz St. Louis will combine forces to premiere Blanchard’s first opera, “Champion,” an “Opera in Jazz” based on the story of gay boxing champion Emile Griffith. This follows his recent score for Emily Mann’s Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar

Named Desire.”

After taking on projects that are so large in scope, returning to the touring circuit with his band in a small group setting can be a challenge, Blanchard said.

“You get accustomed to having so many different colors at your disposal,” he says. “So I try to figure out a way to have as much diversity in everything that we play, the same expansive color palette as when you have an orchestra and voices.”

The latest incarnation of Blanchard’s quintet brings together longtime members Brice Winston (saxophone) and Kendrick

Scott (drums) with pianist Fabian Almazan and its newest member, 21-year-old bass prodigy Joshua Crumbly.

In his role as mentor to his younger bandmates, Blanchard takes the mantle from his own onetime mentor, legendary jazz drummer Art Blakey. Like Blakey, Blanchard stresses the importance for young musicians to know how to compose as well as improvise.

“Art Blakey told us that composition was the path to finding your own voice,” Blanchard said. “If you improvise, you don’t sit down and reflect coldly on what it is you’re playing because you’re moving so quickly onto the next thing. Whereas when you compose, you have to sit down and really contemplate what each note means and how you get from one to the next. That in itself will create a style.”

The Jazz and Rib Fest will also include performances by Earl Klugh, Brian Culbertson and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. For a complete schedule, visit Hotribscooljazz.org.