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Bright Moments With Terence Blanchard

The trumpeter-composer remembers some of his greatest sessions

Terence Blanchard and Donald Harrison
Blanchard and Donald Harrison (left) play with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers at New York's Village Gate in 1986, the same year they formed their own influential group. (photo: Alan Nahigian)
"We didn't realize how big a sound we had gotten," Blanchard says of his E-Collective. From left: bassist Donald Ramsey, keyboardist Fabian Almazan, Blanchard, guitarist Charles Altura and drummer Oscar Seaton (photo: Brandt Vicknair)

When trumpeter Terence Blanchard replaced Wynton Marsalis in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1982, he was just 19. Yet alongside another new member, saxophonist Donald Harrison, he quickly helped shape the Messengers’ sound, contributing tunes that made their way into primary positions on recordings and taking on the group’s musical director responsibilities.

More than three decades later, Blanchard’s leadership as a player and composer informs realms beyond his own projects and even jazz in general. Part of that has to do with the humanism with which he approaches his art. He stresses the value of exchanging ideas, and has remained committed to the Blakey ethos of developing younger players. In his own changing lineups, he’s long been known for encouraging all members to write and contribute original music.

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