7x Grammy winner and 2x Oscar nominee performs his movie music live
Film Scores Live! showcases the stunning scores and songs from several films, featuring Blanchard’s ensemble, the E-Collective and, for this engagement, members of the Lawrence Community Orchestra. Previous presentations of his film music have included engagements at Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, the Hollywood Bowl and many other legacy symphonic halls around the globe. Still images from the films are featured alongside these larger-than-life scores to give the audience a look inside the mind of a genius.
Blanchard stands tall as one of jazz’s most-esteemed trumpeters and defies expectations by creating a spectrum of artistic pursuits. A seven-time Grammy winner and twice Oscar-nominated film composer, he is unique in the jazz world as an artist whose creative endeavors go far beyond the genre into film scoring, crafting television series soundscapes and conceiving grand operas that have been recognized at the highest levels of art appreciation.
Perhaps Blanchard’s most challenging and fulfilling endeavor has been his entry into the world of opera. One of his opera’s, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, opened New York’s Metropolitan Opera House 2021–22 season—the first time an opera by an African American composer graced the Met’s stage in its 136-year history. Based on the bestselling 2014 memoir of The New York Times journalist Charles M. Blow, with the libretto written by Kasi Lemmons, Fire Shut Up in My Bones explores Blow’s struggles to transcend and overcome a cycle of violence.
In addition, Blanchard has been at the forefront of giving voice in his works to socio-cultural issues and racial injustices of our time. “Like anybody else, I like to play feel-good party music, but sometimes my music is about the reality of where we are,” says Blanchard who today lives in Los Angeles as well as in his native New Orleans. “I’m just trying to speak the truth.”
Blanchard’s score for Jungle Fever in 1991 marked the beginning of a long-standing collaboration with Spike Lee. While Blanchard says he and Lee have lost count of how many projects they’ve worked on together, the list includes 17 films and three television projects. He was nominated for a best-score Oscar for Lee’s 2018 film BlacKkKlansman and 2020’s Da 5 Bloods. Blanchard became the second African American composer nominated twice in the category (duplicating Quincy Jones’s honors for In Cold Blood in 1967 and The Color Purple in 1985).
The center of gravity to all Blanchard’s works is the undergirding of his beautiful, provocative and inspiring jazz recordings. The same holds true now as it did early in his career in 1994, when he told DownBeat: “Writing for film is fun, but nothing can beat being a jazz musician, playing a club, playing a concert.” In 2015, he formed The E-Collective—his revolutionary jazz band, that is creatively proficient at layering grooves fueled by funk, rock, R&B and the blues.
As an educator, Blanchard was recognized in 2019 as the Kenny Burrell Chair in jazz studies at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, after serving as artistic director of the Berklee College of Music (2015–2018), the Henry Mancini Institute at the University of Miami (2011–2014) and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (2000–2011).
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