Stories » Terence Blanchard happy to share the spotlight with his exceptional band / Charleston City Paper

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Terence Blanchard happy to share the spotlight with his exceptional band / Charleston City Paper

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Forty minutes into his own performance at the Cistern, Terence Blanchard had played trumpet for about five minutes. He'd spent most of the concert standing near the back of the stage as his four-piece supporting band jammed through a nearly non-stop segue of original songs and classics like Marcus Miller's "Hannibal." Halfway through, it felt like Blanchard was more of the musical director of the E-Collective than a member of the band, let alone its star.

The band's modernist approach to jazz, both free form and intricately complex, bounced from groove to discombobulation. Drummer Oscar Seaton and bassist David Ginyard (a Winnsboro, SC, native) ensured that we never lost interest, locking in vamps and grooves while guitarist Matt Sewell and pianist Fabian Almazan took journeys on their instruments. Early on, Blanchard seemed half-engaged, stepping to the stage to lay a few notes and arpeggios over the top of it all, before retreating again to let the band do the talking.

Blanchard's band looked young, but each was clearly a virtuoso, and I began to wonder if he hadn't poached the cream of the crop from some elite music program in New York or New Orleans. When he finally spoke, almost an hour into the 90-minute show, he confirmed as much, at least in part. Sewell, he explained, was his 19-year-old student at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He'd agreed to fill in for Blanchard's usual guitarist, Charles Altura, and had practiced with the band for the first time that afternoon (If he hadn't told us, we'd have never suspected it).

Before introducing the band, Blanchard said that he was "very excited" to play Spoleto, a "multicultural festival," adding, "This is who we are as a people and as a country, and I'm happy to be a part of it."  READ THE FULL Charleston City Paper REVIEW