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Terence Blanchard: Moores School of Music Jazz Artist in Residence

Grammy winning trumpeter, composer and bandleader performs with Jazz Orchestra on Nov. 15.

Terence Blanchard

Terence Blanchard, the world-renowned trumpeter, composer and band leader, will be in residence from November 11 – 15 at the Moores School of Music as part of its annual Jazz Festival.

This is the five-time Grammy Award winner’s second visit to the University of Houston campus. His quintet gave a one-night performance during the 2000 Moores Jazz Festival.

This time around, Blanchard will have an extended stay and spend much of his time teaching students his methods of improvisation, composition and performance. The breadth of his catalog includes all of the scores for film director Spike Lee’s movies, including Malcolm X and Mo’ Better Blues, and his first commissioned opera.

This summer, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis presented the world premiere of Blanchard’s Champion, “an opera in jazz.” Champion is the true story of Emile Griffith, a closeted gay boxer in the 1960s who has been quoted as saying “the world forgave me for killing a man, but could not forgive me for loving one.”

Blanchard will close his residency on Friday, Nov. 15 with a performance with the Moores Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Noe Marmolejo, director of the Jazz Studies Program, and Ryan Gabbart, the program’s assistant director. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Moores Opera House and tickets are $12 for general admission and $7 for students and senior citizens.

Blanchard’s rehearsals with the Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Combo on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are open to the public, as well as his lecture in the Jazz History II course at 10 am on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

Born on March 13, 1962 in New Orleans, Blanchard began playing piano by the age of five and switched to trumpet three years later. He played alongside childhood friend Wynton Marsalis in summer band camps. While in high school, he took extracurricular classes at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.

Blanchard studied at Rutgers University in New Jersey while touring with Lionel Hampton's orchestra. In 1982, Wynton Marsalis recommended that Blanchard replace him in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and he worked as the lead soloist and musical director for that band until 1986.

Blanchard then co-led a prominent quintet with saxophonist Donald Harrison, recording seven albums for the Concord, Columbia, and Evidence record labels in five years, including a stirring in-concert tribute to the Eric Dolphy/Booker Little ensemble.

In the '90s, Blanchard became a leader in his own right, recording for the Columbia label. In that period, he also began his long collaboration with film director Spike Lee. Blanchard has written the score for every Spike Lee film since 1991, including Malcolm X, Clockers, Summer of Sam, 25th Hour, Inside Man, and the Hurricane Katrina documentary, When the Levees Broke. With over 40 scores to his credit, Blanchard is one of the most sought-after jazz musicians to ever compose for film.

In the fall of 2000, Blanchard was named artistic director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. By April 2007, the Monk Institute announced its Commitment to New Orleans initiative, which included the relocation of the program to the campus of Loyola University in New Orleans, spearheaded by Blanchard.

Blanchard has been nominated for 11 Grammys and has won four in total, including awards for New York Scene with Blakey (1984) and the soundtrack A Tale of God's Will in 2007. In 2005, Blanchard was part of McCoy Tyner's ensemble that won the Grammy in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category for Illuminations.

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