Terence Blanchard ‘The Comedian’ (Blue Note) 4/5

The music serves as the backdrop to the film soundtrack directed by Taylor Hackford and is worthy of your undivided attention in its own right since it includes a stellar line-up of musicians comprising Kenny Barron on piano, Ravi Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Carl Allen on drums and David Pulphus on acoustic bass as well as the leader on trumpet.
What makes this such an enjoyable listening experience is the unorthodox approach to essentially bop-influenced music. There is an absence of cliché and, at times, a brief incursion into freer form, though never straying to far away from melody. On the high speed, ‘Electricity’, the rhythm section operates in full flow. Barron is in his element on the trio-based number, ‘Kenny gets out’, with delightful interplay between pianist and bassist. Another winner of a tune is, ‘Jackie’s lament’, which has a gentle waltz-like groove with a lovely warm tenor solo from Coltrane, excellent use of unison horns and in general a slightly blues-inflected ambience. The whole quintet are in relaxed mode on, ‘Deli to soup kitchen’, which is notable for some inventive drum licks.

Blanchard is a film composer of some vintage having composed for George Lucas, Oprah Winfrey and not forgetting his lengthy collaborative work with Spike Lee. His lengthy tenure with the Blue Note labels stretches back well over a decade with, ‘Flow’ from 2005 and especially, ‘A tale of God’s will’, from 2007 stand out recordings.

Tim Stenhouse