World-renowned New Orleans-based trumpet player and film composer Terence Blanchard is set to score When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, Spike Lee's upcoming four-hour documentary for HBO about the ravages incurred upon New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina and the failed levee system in the city. Blanchard will score the film at New Orleans' The Music Shed Recording Studios, and will be calling upon the talents of local musicians as well as his band in the recording of the project.
Hailed as “one of the most important films HBO has ever made,” When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, will air on HBO as a two-part special on August 21st and 22nd. It will repeat in its entirety on August 29th, the one-year anniversary of the devastating event. A world premiere of the film, which will be open to the public and residents of New Orleans, will take place on August 16th at the New Orleans Arena, with free tickets available at both the Arena box office and through Ticketmaster. Both Lee and Blanchard will be at the premiere along with others interviewed throughout the film.
“Hopefully this brief look into the events that surrounded Huricane Katrina will help to raise the consciousness of those less compassionate and remind those who care,” states Blanchard. “When The Levees Broke is a testament to the will and spirit of the city of New Orleans and its citizens. Our undying devotion is strongly represented by all of the individuals who took the time to speak their mind, and I'm glad Spike felt compelled to have this story told through our words.”
2006 has been an incredibly prolific and exciting year for Blanchard on a number of levels. Flow, his critically-acclaimed CD, was the recipient of two Grammy Nominations, and his film score for Inside Man, Spike Lee's feature box-office smash starring Jodie Foster, Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Willem Defoe, has been hailed as ground-breaking and an integral part of the movie. He was a featured panelist at this year's Sundance Film Festival and will also serve as a keynote speaker at the upcoming Billboard Film and Television Music Conference in November. Blanchard is currently in the midst of a worldwide tour.
Blanchard was born in New Orleans on March 13, 1962. Picking up the trumpet in elementary school, he was also coached at home by his opera-singing father. In high school, Terence came under the tutelage of Ellis Marsalis. After graduation, he attended Rutger's University on a music scholarship. One of Terence's professors was so impressed by his talent that he brokered him a touring gig with Lionel Hampton's band.
In '83, Wynton Marsalis recommended his homeboy as his replacement in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Part of the Blakey legend was his ability to foster performances and individual personalities from the young malleable talents he brought into his fold. Blakey utilized and nurtured the improvisation and compositional ideas of his band members to solidify his own unique artistic vision. The legacy of the working band as jazz workshop is at the essence of jazz and Blanchard remains one of the few on the scene today who fully embrace that dynamic.
Two years later, Terence and fellow Messenger Donald Harrison split to form their own quintet. In '90, TB departed to pursue a solo career. During his tenure at Columbia, both his soundtracks to Mo' Better Bluesand The Heart Speakswere nominated for Grammy Awards. Signed to the Sony Classical label in 1999, the trumpeter/composer gained acclaim as a bandleader and scorer of movie and television soundtracks (including the Grammy nominated Wandering Moon and a Golden Globe nomination for his score for Spike Lee's The 25th Hour). In 2002 Blanchard signed to Blue Note, where he has released both Bounce and Flow, which are part of a Trilogy. Blanchard is currently at work on the third installment, a new CD set for release in 2007.