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Interview:
Jazz man Terence Blanchard lays down roots in Detroit
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

Terence Blanchard may hail from, and reside in, New Orleans. But his heart, and his body, will be spending plenty of time in Detroit during the next couple of years.

The 50-year-old trumpeter virtuoso, composer, arranger and bandleader -- a five-time Grammy Award winner and veteran of the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers before going solo -- recently accepted an appointment as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Jazz Creative Chair, curating jazz concerts for the DSO's next two Paradise Jazz Series seasons.

And he's the Artist in Residence for the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival.

Speaking in town last month, Blanchard said that his Detroit roots run deeper than most know, dating back to his musical studies as a youth at Detroit-born jazz artist and former Wayne State University professor Willie Metcalf's summer workshop. "We would meet there every Saturday," recalled Blanchard, whose childhood friends included Wynton and Brandford Marsalis. "And Willie used to talk about Detroit a lot. He talked about all the great musicians that had come from this historical place; the list is long, just like it is from Kansas City and New Orleans."

His other main Motown memory was taking part in a jam session led by fellow trumpeter Marcus Belgrave while Blanchard was in town with Blakey. "I went to a club to hear him play," recalled Blanchard, who teams with Poncho Sanchez this weekend to pay tribute to Dizzy Gillespie and Cuban percussionist Chano Poso. "I didn't bring my horn. The first thing he said was, 'Come on up and play my horn' and we hung out and played all night long.

"That was the first time in my life when a jam session was a jam session based on true admiration and love, not contempt and conceit, jealousy. And I had so much fun..."

The DSO's 2012-13 Paradise Jazz series includes concerts by Cassandra Wilson, the Jack DeJohnette Group, the Monterey Jazz Festival's 55th anniversary tour and more. Meanwhile, he'll be playing at the Jazz Fest with his own group, as well as supervising special programming and performances.

Terence Blanchard and Pancho Sanchez perform "Cubano Be, Cubano Bop" at 8 p.m. Friday at Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $18-$55.50. Call 313-576-5111 or visit www.dso.org.

Web Site: www.dso.org

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