Terence Blanchard - A Take Of God's Will (A Requiem For Katrina)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Blue Note 91532    ***Blanchard (t), Brice Winston (ts, ss), Aaron Parks (p), Derrick Hodge (b, el b), Kendrick Scott (d, perc), Zack Harmin (tables) and Northwest Sinfonia (strings). Rec. 2006The soundtrack to Spike Lee’s Hurricane Katrina documentary When The Levees Broke is, as one would imagine, an intensely moving affair. Blanchard, a native New Orleansian, must have been affected by the devastation of the iconic city with as much intensity as anybody and turns in one of his best performances on record to date. His playing is wounded, anguished, gracious and sublime, his tone finely wrought and clearly enunciated, pushing at emotional peaks with compelling conviction.

While the leader decisively shapes the set nothing should be taken away from the ensemble and orchestra who swathe the music in a blanket of harmonies that both stir and soothe the soul. Texturally God’s Will is a lush affair. There is a touch of Miles Davis-Gil Evans’ Porgy & Bess in the air yet the distinctive Crescent City Afro-Latin rhythmic pulse is a defining feature. As with some of Blanchard’s previous releases a few of the compositions fall short of the high melodic bar that he sets elsewhere yet the occasional ponderousness detracts in no way from the underlying gravitas of this music.

This is a strong statement about a natural disaster that was turned into a tragedy by racism and incompetence. Blanchard’s requiem shows what else man is capable of. An album of sombre beauty that exudes raw, stark emotion.

Kevin Le Gendre

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