The Jazzcat

Terence Blanchard and his brand new CD on Blue Note called "Flow"

by on May.17, 2005, under News, Radio


Slide Show


musicians are some of the coolest cats on the planet. Creative, down to

earth, and soulful are just a few short descriptions for these

individuals who take life and transform it into beautiful, intense and

crazy expressions. Their language is based on reality and keeping it

real is what straight ahead music is all about. Straight ahead, forward

thinking and towards the future is where the creative ideas lie.



“Flow”, Terence Blanchard’s brand new album soon

to be released this June expresses music as it is happening now in the

present and let’s your imagination “Flow” straight into the future. You

may think that these cats have taken a word and created a concept to

build an album on. Not true. Flow was the last tune written for this

album and its funky rich bass line and melodic groove were

just some of the key elements that cohesively brought it all




This album was produced by Terence and Herbie

Hancock, who has not produced anyone else’s project besides his own

since he collaborated with Dexter Gordon back in the day. It was

Herbie’s idea to take “Flow” and divide it into three parts and spread

it throughout the album as a three-part suite. It works in part to

provide direction and a solid base on which to “Flow”.


Terence and I spent some good time hangin’ out in his Hollywood hideaway and we got a chance to talk about “Flow” and get inside the music and the man behind it.

image imageimage 

LD: How did you come up with the concept for flow?


TB: “Whenever we play, these guys go in different

directions every night. And, that is kind of one of the unfortunate

things that when you guys listen to the CD, you are only hearing one

version of the tunes. When it came time to come up with a title for the

album, we were going through all of these things to try to find the

word that best describes what we do live, and “Flow” was the thing that

came about.”


LD: On “Benny’s Tune”, I heard one note that

reminded me of some of the music on “The Heart Speaks”. How do you play

that note and not go back to what you have played before, but go

forward to what you will play in a new composition?


TB: “You can’t think about it. This is the whole

reason why musicians have to continue to be on a path to higher

learning and trying to expand the pallet. Because if you make a

conscious decision to be different, it may not be as musical as it

should be because it is not coming from the right place. Whereas if you

are learning new things, you start to develop new tunes based on new

sounds that you like and things start to move in different


 imageimage imageimage

LD: Whenever you play with other musicians, you

take a little piece of what they have and incorporate it into your

being, it becomes a part of you. What little piece have you

incorporated or learned by playing with Wayne (Wayne Shorter) and




TB: “What I have gotten by playing with Herbie and

Wayne over at the Thelonious Monk Institute is just the key to just be

free! When you start to play this music, you are always looking for

validation from your elders, and those guys make you feel like you have

just as much of a right to play this music and you can do whatever

comes to mind. Forget about upholding the tradition and just really be

who you are. This band has developed its sound purely by just trying to

figure out how to play these compositions.”


LD: Do you set up some skeletal framework and let the cats put their layers on top of it or how does it all come together?


TB: “It is a combination of a number of things,

but the main thing is that the compositions have to be interesting.

Compositions evolve and the way you hear them at first is much

different than after you have heard them for three months. You can’t

control it! You have to allow it to be what it is going to be and just

go with it. I have the best fun playing with these guys because they

take me in directions that I would have never ever gone in without

them. This is the best band that I have ever had in my life!”


LD: Has Blue Note given you the freedom to do your dance?


TB: “Being on Blue Note is so different than being

on any other label that I have been on. Other labels are run by

businessmen who love the music and it was reflected in the projects

that they wanted you to do. But, when I got to Blue Note, I knew guys

like Bruce Lundvall and Tom Evan and Michael Cuscuna for a long time,

but what I started to discover is that these guys are serious music

lovers. It came time to do another record of all original music and

when it was presented, those guys heard it and said, “Let’s go with it!”


LD: In terms of your personal growth as a musician, how is it possible for you to measure that?


TB: “Well, there are of course all of those

technical things that you want to work on like having your phrasing or

your sound develop in a certain way, but that thing that I have come to

learn is that you can’t determine what it is and you can’t predict it.

You always set goals for yourself, but you really just kind of have to

accept the totality of your situation, not just accept the things that

you want to accept.
I have been watching this band grow and it goes in

some directions that I would not have gone in, but I sit back and

listen to it and say, “Wow, that’s hip!”


LD: Well, when I listen to this album, it sounds

like a soundtrack. Did you write it that way or can you not help but

write that big?

 image imageimageimage

TB: “Well, no what happened with this record is

the same thing that happened when I wrote “Jazz in Film”. I had been

writing for orchestra all of this time and had all of this experience

and I need to bring that together with what I am trying to do as an

artist. I had been using electronic instruments in my film music for a

long time and I started to hear these other colors and sounds, but I

did not want to use those instruments in any way that would replace

acoustic instruments. They were just there to enhance what we do.”


LD: How can we get your music and jazz music in general into ears, minds and hearts of those who only like easy listening music?


TB: “It’s an interesting time in which we live in

because I really think that the music can break out and touch a lot of

people, but it’s encumbered upon us as artists to strive to be who we

are, work hard and have something to offer. Because I think the

listening public is dying for it!
I think that there are a number of people out

there that when you put on great music, they respond. I have to find my

sound and my rhythm and I think in doing that, you start to create a

rhythm and a sound that is part of your generation and part of your

culture and it touches more people.”


LD: In terms of artistry, the music, radio and the

music business in and of itself, do those things benefit you? For some,

all of those circles do not come together.


TB: “It took some time for all of those things to

come together for me and it is just a matter of being diligent. See one

of the things that you have to remember is that I am one of the few

guys that have managed to keep a band and that is hard. Because the

economics of the business don’t necessarily give you a safe haven. I

think that is part of it and I think that people expect from me a group

sound, but you have to make sacrifices. And I think that these

particular guys in the band understand what we have as a group. When we

come back from a long break and we are playing a gig for the first

time, and nobody wants to say it, but somebody will finally say, “Damn,

I miss you cats!”



LD: I have heard some people making the comparison

between you and Art Blakey in terms of honing young cats and bringing

them up in the music.


TB: “Well I learned a lot from him in terms of

leading a band. When I first joined the band, he wanted us to write the

tunes. I wanted to play all of the old Messenger stuff, but Art did not

want to do that. He said that, “You have to do your own thing; you have

to put your mark on this music”.  He just gave us all of this room to do our own thing and then featured us every night in his own band.


At the time, Billy Pierce was the musical director

and when he left the band, I was the youngest one and he said to me,

“You need to be the musical director because you need to have that

responsibility” and that was cool because it helped me learn how to

lead a band and program shows. Bu said that “You’re a Jazz Messenger

now, don’t worry about anything. You are just here to get your stuff

together and learn how to be a band leader because that is what we need

in the business, more band leaders”.

 LD: If we were to describe your band in terms of hoop, what would your squad be like?

image imageimageimage

TB: “My squad would be like the old Lakers. I am

talking about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott, Michael

Cooper and Magic Johnson. That’s the kind of squad that I have and it’s

funny, I am not the point guard. I am just waiting around for someone

to pass me the ball so I can shoot!

The reason why I compare my band to that team is

because you did not know how to defend that team. Anybody could be hot

on any given night and whoever was hot, Magic did not have any ego

about it, he fed them the ball.”


LD: So what’s happening in the movie business, are you working on a new project?


TB: “Yeah, there is a project called, “A Kill and

the Bee” with Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett that Spike is going

to have in production this summer.”


LD: Spike has been pretty instrumental?


TB: “Spike has been big, big, big. One of the

biggest things about Spike is that I came to his world and he had a

definite idea about what he wanted. But, he has been open to anything;

you just have to convince him. And when he sees the practical

application of all of the music, he’s like, Cool!

He doesn’t want me to score films like the LA

dudes score films. He likes melody playing through the scenes, which

could be rough sometimes, but that type of structure has made me grow

in terms of how to structure those melodies around the dialogue and use

certain types of structure to make room for the dialogue. It’s been



Well, it has been great and truly a pleasure

hangin' with the one and only Terence Blanchard. Everyone please check

out this CD. It's due to be released in early June and it is called,

“Flow”. You will dig it!


LeRoy Downs

Click image to read the interview on

Click picture to listen to a live interview with LeRoy Downs and Terence Blanchard on KRML Jazz and Blues Radio






Leave a Reply

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...