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Terence Blanchard Group: Choices

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Terence Blanchard can’t be blamed for wanting to follow up 2007’s A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina) with another morality tale. That poignant Grammy-winner, which surveyed the emotional response to the New Orleans tragedy with quintet and orchestra, was perhaps the apex of the trumpeter/composer’s career. Choices also has much to say, about, obviously enough, the choices we all make. It’s impressive overall, due largely to the exemplary musicianship of Blanchard and his crew, but lacks the urgency and potency of its predecessor.

For the recording, Blanchard set up his equipment in New Orleans’ Ogden Museum of Southern Art and utilized the services of pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist Derrick Hodge, drummer/percussionist Kendrick Scott, Walter Smith III on saxophone and the recently ubiquitous Lionel Loueke on guitar. In addition, Blanchard employed the neo-soul singer Bilal and professor/activist Dr. Cornel West, who provides spoken word interludes throughout much of the recording.

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