by Justin Duyao
January 12, 2023
For two back-to-back evenings, the celebrated jazz musician and composer Terence Blanchard will speak and perform at the University of California (UC) San Diego, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
On Monday, Jan. 16, the five-time Grammy-award winner and two-time Oscar-nominee will join UC San Diego Professor Emeritus Cecil Lytle for live conversation at The Guggenheim Theatre, a 225-seat black box theater that opened alongside UCSD’s “Park & Market,” last year.
On Tuesday, Jan. 17, Blanchard will join The E-Collective and the Turtle Island Quartet to pay homage to the legendary saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter, presenting both classic and original compositions on UC San Diego’s main campus in La Jolla, in an evening produced by ArtPower at UC San Diego. Both events are open to the public.
Blanchard’s critically-acclaimed performance will draw from his 2021 album, “Absence,” which he recorded and released with the same groups, featuring pianist Fabian Almazan, guitarist Charles Altura, bassist David Ginyard and drummer Oscar Seaton from The E-Collective, as well as Turtle Island Quartet artistic director David Balakrishnan on violin, Gabe Terracciano also on violin, Benjamin von Gutzeit on viola and Malcom Parson on cello.
The New Yorker music critic Steve Futterman described the album as a “lush and dramatic soundscape that calls to mind Blanchard’s career as a successful film composer.”
“I wanted to honor [Shorter] to let him know how much he has meant to me,” Blanchard told Tim Peacock in 2021. About the 89-year-old saxophonist and composer, Blanchard said: “When you look at my own writing, you can see how much I’ve learned from Wayne. He mastered writing compositions starting with a simple melody and then juxtaposing it against the harmonies that come from a different place to make it come alive in a different light. That’s what makes the beauty of it. [Absence] is about composition — not just his works but writing our own music to see how much he’s influenced us.”
Throughout his 40-year career, Blanchard has composed more than 40 film scores and performed in more than 50. He is a frequent collaborator with director Spike Lee and has been nominated for two Academy Awards his work on Lee’s films, including “BlacKkKlansman” (2018) and “Da 5 Bloods” (2020). Other film credits include performances in “The Princess & the Frog” and scores for “The Woman King” and “Malcolm X.”
“I’m proud to have a chance to visit some of the music that has shaped my musical identity,” Blanchard told ArtPower, the performing and media arts arm of UC San Diego’s vibrant creative community who produced the performance.
Blanchard’s MLK Day speaking engagement at The Guggenheim Theatre at Park & Market will focus on his life, career and creative process as a composer and performer. The Helen Edison Lecture Series, which is sponsoring Blanchard’s engagement at Park & Market, has presented free public lectures on issues that advance humanitarian purposes and objectives since 1985. Lytle will interview Blanchard and moderate the event. An accomplished pianist, Lytle has earned a reputation as a recitalist performing 19th and 20th century piano compositions and has produced Emmy-nominated music history documentaries for public television.
“Terence Blanchard is a living legend, and we are thrilled to welcome him to San Diego as part of the wonderful tapestry of celebrations our community is organizing to mark MLK Day all weekend,” said Andrew Waltz, director of arts management for UC San Diego’s Division of Extended Studies.
“We look forward to hosting Mr. Blanchard, E-Collective band and Turtle Island Quartet on our main campus for what promises to be an unforgettable evening,” said Colleen Kollar Smith, executive director of UC San Diego’s Campus Performances and Events Office. “Mr. Blanchard is a creative force and vital contributor to multiple musical genres, including jazz, TV, film and opera. It will be a privilege for our audiences to experience him performing live.”
Blanchard is currently the Endowed Chair of Jazz Studies at UC Los Angeles.
Helen Edison Lecture Series – Terence Blanchard
When: Monday, January 16, 2023. Doors open 5:30 p.m. Event begins at 6:00 p.m.
Where: The Guggenheim Theatre – 1100 Market St, San Diego, CA 92101
Terence Blanchard featuring E-Collective and Turtle Island Quartet
When: Tuesday, January 17, 2023. Doors open 7:30 p.m. Concert begins at 8:00 p.m.
Where: Price Center East Ballroom – 9500 Gilman Drive La Jolla, CA 92093