Interview by Sean O'Connell
Trumpet player and New Orleans native Terence Blanchard is a very busy man, but when he isn't blasting his fiery, post-bop horn on a recording date or scoring the latest Hollywood drama, he always makes time for the stage. From August 19th through the 21st, Blanchard will bring his band to Hollywood's Catalina Bar & Grill for a display of chops and experience only a veteran can provide.
In the early '80s, at the age of 20, Blanchard joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and has been working tirelessly ever since as a performer, educator (over 10 years as head of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz) and, for the last 20 years, film composer. Starting with the soundtrack for Jungle Fever, Blanchard has become Spike Lee's John Williams, composing every score since, as well as composing for over 20 other films (Barbershop, Original Sin, Cadillac Records). We reached Blanchard by phone while he was reclining on his front porch to discuss his 5 favorite soundtracks of the last 25 years.
5. James Horner
“That particular score just emotionally captured something very unique. It created a sense of drama that was very heroic. It was a period piece. James Horner's use of choir along with orchestra sometimes that stuff can go a little over the top but that wasn't the case with that score. Very tastefully done.”
4. Thomas Newman
Shawshank Redemption (1994)
“One of the things that amazed me about that soundtrack was that Thomas Newman had such a unique ability to create interesting sonic palettes. It's become a staple of the film industry. He is probably the most temped composer in L.A. It's pretty brilliant if you think about it. The harmonic motions he uses can basically be used in anything. I don't mean this to be disrespectful but it might sound like it: his scores create motion without going anywhere. It's so universal and so uniquely beautiful that it really caught my intention. Definitely one of my all-time favorites.”
3. Cliff Martinez
“I love that thing. It's mostly synth-based but the approach that he took to action I thought was off the chain. The natural tendency is to go in a totally different direction. I thought his choice was very brilliant. I love that score.”
2. Harry Gregson-Williams
Man on Fire (2004)
“Man on Fire is one of those scores where every time I listen to it I hear something new. I'd hate to be a molecule on Harry's brain. That score dips and dives, ducks and turns. How did he even think of that stuff? It makes sense musically on its own but he was very brave in how he would introduce very drastically opposed ideas. In a way the score defines the film.”
1. Harry Gregson-Williams
Narnia: The Lion, the With & the Wardrobe (2005)
“Awesome. Awesome. Harry is so versatile. The thing I love about Narnia is that it proves the range of a composer that some people don't get. If you go from Man on Fire to Narnia you see a wide range. We all get typecast for certain kinds of scores. Although we only get offered certain things all composers would like to branch out.”