Choices: Terence Blanchard With Dr. Cornel West And Bilal
If you're a jazz fan, you already know about Terence Blanchard, probably as a bandleader, possibly for his work with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. He has a new album coming out in about 2 weeks, Choices that is probably his most fascinating work to date. And I'm saying that as a huge fan of his Grammy winning Requiem for Katrina from 2007, A Tale of God's Will , the project he did with Spike Lee for the HBO documentary When the Levees Broke.
He collaborated with activist Cornel West and singer Bilal on the new project. “When the spoken word idea came to mind, Dr. Cornel West was the first person I thought of. I’ve always been a fan of his philosophy-- the stances he’s taken and the causes that he has championed throughout his career-- and I thought what better person could I find to put a lot of these ideas into words that can work in this particular musical situation. Bilal on the other hand is a great vocalist and while recognized more as an R&B soul singer, he is a huge fan of Jazz and is very knowledgeable when it comes to the history of music."
West, who is a distinguished professor at Princeton, is best known for work that fuses civil rights and anti-war activism with a powerful moral and even religious social critique. Long a hero of progressives, he got into a much-publicized fracas with obtuse corporate shill Lawrence Summers, then serving, inexplicably, as president of Harvard. Asked about his collaboration with Blanchard, West defined Choices as being about "what kind of human being you’re going to be. How are you going to opt for a life of decency and compassion and service and love. What goes into that kind of choice. That’s the human challenge. To be part of this album is an unadulterated joy because no doubt about it, music for me is continuous of life-- to be able to live the kind of life that I live on the certain kind of Socratic calling of raising
unsettling questions. To be able to be in conversation and on an album with Terence Blanchard, that’s serious business... I mean, that’s... that’s a beautiful thing.”
The CD hits the stores August 18th-- on Norman Lear's Concord label. Meanwhile below is the first of 5 "webisodes" on the making of album-- "Terence TV." It'll give you a little hint of what's coming up.