Terence Blanchard featuring the E-Collective – Breathless

Terence Blanchard & E-Collective "Breathless"This new electric band led by trumpeter Terence Blanchard came together last October and then went on a two-week European tour. Terence himself said that he thought the audience at Milano’s Blue Note were a little shocked since most of them had expected an acoustic set. But then everything clicked and they received a standing ovation. Similar reactions came at the NYC Winter Jazzfest at New York’s Blue Note.

The album features Fabian Almazan on piano and keys, Donald Ramsey on bass, Oscar Seaton on drums, and Charles Altura on guitar with special guest, singer PJ Morton, who opens the album with a funky cover version of the Les McCann/Eddie Harris classic “Compared To What”.

The album clocks in at almost 80 minutes and the focal point is the 14-minute plus “Everglades”, written by pianist Almazan, an extensive tour through the genres and through different moods, echoing Miles Davis and Weather Report in a way. Terence says in the press release to his new album that he had always listened to groove-oriented music from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Parliament Funkadelic, Prince or D’Angelo. But there is also a very lyrical and beautiful section in “Everglades” which is really dreamy and concludes this monumental piece. And the Jimi Hendrix influence on this album is very direct and clear.

The title track is Terence’s spoken-word protest song regarding the incident with Eric Garner and the NY Police in the “I Can’t Breathe” case. The bass-heavy “Confident Selflessness” reflects the “Buddhism notion of being open and brave enough to be vulnerable” and showcases Altura in a rock-inflected tune. PJ Morton is back on “Shutting Down”, which was written by T. Oliver Blanchard, Jr., Terence’s son. It’s more of an alt-rock or alt-pop tune which fails to ignite. Things are back to bouncing grounds with the extremely funky “Soldiers” which reminds me of some of the best Cameo or Brass Construction tracks from the late 70s/early 80s.

Tempo is reduced on the meditative spoken-word “Samadhi” which comes at just the right time on the album. “Talk To Me” incorporates another spoken-word text into the song; this time it’s by Dr. Cornel West. Another pretty funky piece. A strange, but effective and convincing choice is the cover of the Hank Williams tune “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But Time”, sung in a veritable R&B arrangement by PJ Morton. Haunting and intensive with a lot of heart and soul.

After the Trombone Shorty-like, loud and rocking “Cosmic Warrior”, the album ends on a melancholy note with an interpretation of the Coldplay tune “Midnight”.

Terence Blanchard & the E-Collective are on tour:

6/14 Los Angeles, Hollywood Bowl, Playboy Jazz Festival

6/16-21 Washington, Blues Alley

In July, he plays several festivals on the circuit:

7/04 Madeira, Funchal Jazz Festival

7/05 Sussex, Love Supreme Festival

7/06-08 Paris, Duc des Lombards

7/10 Rotterdam, Northsea Jazz Festival

7/13 Prague, Bohemia Jazz Festival

7/16 Perugia, Umbria Jazz Festival

 

 

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