When the phenom Wynton Marsalis left Art Blakey's band to form his own, trumpeter Terence Blanchard--a Marsalis pal from hometown New Orleans--was chosen to replace him. Right time, right place--right? Blanchard, who (like Marsalis) shifts from sweet-souled sensitivity one moment to firecracker intensity the next, had to benefit from the connection; on the other hand, stepping in after the jazz hype job of the decade, no one could have benefited in the comparison. Yet Blanchard has managed to stake his own claim in the modern mainstream's rush for the gold--partly because of his terrific technique and rigorous improvising, partly because he's hooked up with Spike Lee on the director's last several films, and partly because Wynton has all but given up the territory to emulate earlier styles of jazz. Next week, in his first local appearance since the film Malcolm X (for which he composed the music), Blanchard will lead his band through material from their upcoming album, which comprises extended performances of themes from the sound track. The band itself deserves extra attention: it includes alert, propulsive comping from pianist Bruce Barth, a rhythm section (bassist Tarus Mateen, drummer Troy Davis) tempered in the fire of working with Betty Carter, and Sam Newsome, a big-toned saxophonist who supplies a few sparks of his own. Tuesday through next Sunday, April 11, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4846.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Larry Busacca.