Terence Blanchard: Let’s Get Lost

In this fine collection of Jimmy McHugh songs, Blanchard uses his rich trumpet tone and exquisite sense of harmonic proportion to create lyrical melodies in his improvisations. In straightforward solos like those on “I’m in the Mood for Love” and “Exactly Like You,” he keeps his mannerisms under control and makes them the seasoning, not the main course. In his long, slow exposition of “Lost in a Fog” he makes judicious use of his special effects to achieve the kind of ache the 1930s singer Jane Froman gave the song. The swoops, slurs, slides and half-valve effects that have often distracted from his storytelling are under control.

Blanchard hired four singers for this album. Diana Krall makes one appearance, Dianne Reeves, Jane Monheit and Cassandra Wilson two each, all with Blanchard’s obbligatos and solo interludes. Monheit’s girlishness is perfect for the innocence of “Too Young to Go Steady.” Blanchard’s trumpet whines may be commentary on the sentimentality of the lyrics. Monheit approximates them as she follows his solo into the second appearance of the bridge. She has fun with the time on “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love.”

The other three singers are not girlish. Krall sings “Let’s Get Lost” simply and sensually. Her piano accompaniment behind Blanchard is anything but simple, incorporating a stretch of 9/8 time and allusions to the “Resolution” section of Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” In great voice, on her second chorus of “I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love With Me” Reeves gives the kind of unselfconscious performance that often eludes her on her own albums. The relaxed swing of her entry on “Can’t Get Out of This Mood” is reminiscent of Lester Young’s. In her phrasing on “Sunny Side of the Street,” Wilson seems to have Louis Armstrong in mind. She and Blanchard intertwine at the end of the out-chorus of “Don’t Blame Me” and she throws him bursts of vocal encouragement as he plays an inspired coda.

Eric Harland is the drummer and Derek Nievergelt the bassist on all the songs, Edward Simon the pianist on all but Krall’s. The inventive tenor saxophone solos on three pieces are by Brice Winston. Five of the 11 tracks end in engineered fades. Those are failures of imagination or missed opportunities, annoyances in an otherwise enjoyable album by a maturing trumpet soloist who is also an accomplished arranger.