• Terence Blanchard Talks Miles and Jack Johnson

    March 13, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    md-jj.jpgToday is the birthday of trumpeter, composer, film scorer Terence Blanchard. Mr. Blanchard was one of our guests on our newest podcast series We Insist! Jazz Speaks Out, which delves into the contributions Jazz has made in the social and political movements throughout African-American history.

    It's always a treat to talk to Terence Blanchard, but this was particularly gratifying. To hear a legend in his own right, who is one of the heros of my generation speak about Miles, who is everyone's hero, and then to discuss Miles' tribute to heavyweight legend and phenom Jack Johnson was one of the most interesting conversations I've had. It's a domino of some of the most creative beings in Black culture - American culture.

    In many respects, Jack Johnson and Miles Davis have a lot in common. They both faced the trials of racism, both were unapologetic about who they were as men and both relished the lavish lifestyle afforded them by their professions. The album, A Tribute to Jack Johnson was the soundtrack for a documentary on the fighter. It was released on Columbia Records and didn't get a very strong marketing push. For the most part, this classic album fell into relative obscurity.

    But with the reissue and the release of the "complete sessions", this gem was brought back into the light, and this time not to be ingnored. So much more was learned about Jack Johnson by the time this was reissued, with the Ken Burns special and other documentaries and musical homages. Check out the podcast, and listen to Terence Blanchard speak about how this groundbreaking album affected him, and how the times affected Miles' new sound and approach.

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