Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Terence Blanchard: Breathless

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

The riotously danceable cover of Les McCann’s classic “Compared to What” that opens Terence Blanchard’s Breathless sets up the counterintuitive mix of groove-oriented partying and protest to follow brilliantly. It also serves as fair warning to bop purists that Blanchard and his new band, the E-Collective, are exploring something different here.

The protest can be spoken (by Blanchard’s son JRei Oliver or, on “Talk to Me,” by Dr. Cornel West), sung (by PJ Morton Jr., a member of the pop group Maroon 5, but not its frontman) or neither (Blanchard’s slow-groove “See Me as I Am”). Sometimes it’s set aside entirely in favor of pure fun, as on Morton’s soul reconfiguration of Hank Williams’ “I Ain’t Got Nothing But Time” or the instrumental keyboards-and-guitar chase of Fabian Almazan and Charles Altura on the short track “Tom & Jerry.” Obvious highlights include the title track, which references Eric Garner’s death-by-NYPD-chokehold last summer; Almazan’s mood-shifting extended piece “Everglades”; Blanchard’s hard-driving, Buddhism-inspired “Confident Selflessness”; the guitar-powered pieces “Soldiers” (funky and fleet) and “Cosmic Warrior” (futuristic, with an edge of heavy-metal menace); and the stately instrumental cover of Coldplay’s “Midnight” that closes the album.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published