When we last saw Terence Blanchard here in St. Louis back in February 2014, the New Orleans-born trumpeter was playing on short notice at the Sheldon as a substitute for pianist Chucho Valdes, who had canceled his long-scheduled performance there due to a mid-tour injury.
Blanchard also spent a good amount of time here the previous year, leading up to the world premiere of his opera Champion in June 2013 at Opera Theatre St. Louis. And local jazz fans knew him well before that, both for his film scores for director Spike Lee and others, and for previous performances here, both at the Sheldon and at Jazz at the Bistro.
However, for his upcoming appearance at the Bistro from Wednesday, June 10 through Saturday, June 13, Blanchard will be doing something that's musically quite different.
He's got a new album, Breathless, released by Blue Note this past week and described as "an exciting zone of grooved fusion teeming with funk, R&B and blues colors." And that fusion sound is delivered by a new band, the E-Collective, which includes Charles Altura (guitar), Fabian Almazan (keyboards), Donald Ramsey (bass), and Oscar Seaton (drums), with Blanchard doubling on keyboard as well as playing trumpet.
Breathless includes several of Blanchard's compositions, as well as one by Almazan and an eclectic batch of covers that ranges from Les McCann and Eddie Harris' “Compared to What“ to Hank Williams' “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But Time," both sung on the recording by PJ Morton of the rock/pop band Maroon 5.
You can check out the E-Collective's sound for yourself in the first video up above, "Oscar Groove," which was recorded last October at the Blue Note Milano in Italy.
After the jump, there's a brief promotional video for Breathless, followed by "Everglades," Almazan's composition from the album, seen here in a version recorded earlier this year at the Blue Note in NYC.
Next is "Confident Selflessness," recorded last November at the Jazz Club Hannover in Germany, and then a complete show (in two parts) from February of this year in Moscow (with an alternate rhythm section comprised of St. Louis native Kimberly Thompson on drums and Burness Travis on bass). (Note that both of these shows were recorded by audience members, so the camera angles are sub-optimal and the video and audio quality varies.)
The final video, "Soldiers: Behind the Song," combines another brief interview with Blanchard and more footage from the NYC Blue Note.
For more about Breathless and the E-Collective, you can read this review in the Guardian UK, and check out this interview with Blanchard, published this week in Billboard.
You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...