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A flutist by any other name...
I know there are a lot of musicians in a jazz orchestra, but that shouldn't stop me from naming the right soloist.
In my review of the June 30 TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival performance by New Orleans trumpeter Terence Blanchard and the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, I wrongly named the flutist performing on the theme from Taxi Driver. It was Neil Watson, who performed to his usual high standard on alto sax and flute throughout the concert.
Here is the concert review, with Neil in his rightful place.
Call the genre jazz noir, if you will, for the dark images it often supports on the big screen.
But the film music performed by New Orleans trumpeter and film scorer Terence Blanchard and the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra was more uplifting than fear-inducing.
A jazz musician first and foremost, Blanchard has scored more than 40 films and is perhaps best known for his work with Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues).
It was fitting he would start the Jazz in Film concert with a nod to his hometown with an instrumental called A Streetcar Named Desire. The trumpeter soared during his solo, backed by the orchestra, including alto saxophonist Greg Gatien, who impressed when it was turn in the spotlight. Blanchard has just been hired to score a Broadway production of Streetcar.
Blanchard was particularly lovely and evocative on Taxi Driver, a piece that included a great duo spot for pianist Will Bonness and flutist Neil Watson.
On the theme to Chinatown, Blanchard proved what a great jazz player he is in a solo spot backed only by the rhythm section of Bonness, Gilles Fournier on bass and Rob Siwik on drums rather than being strait-jacketed by full orchestrations of film scores.
Blanchard soothed the audience with his warm tone on The Subterranians and let loose on Man With the Golden Arm.
Unfortunately, the nature of the concert left the audience wanting far more Blanchard. What he played, he played very well, of course, but with the emphasis on the film score arrangements the trumpeter's playing time was too limited.
Blanchard did some of his best playing on a couple of compositions not from films.
Wayne Shorter's classic Footprints was a joy with Blanchard on fire, with the whole band aflame, including a nice baritone sax solo by Ken Gold.
And the trumpeter was simply superb on his encore, an unaccompanied Amazing Grace, which highlighted the previous shortage of wide open playing by Blanchard.
It's difficult to perform a big band/film jazz concert without reference to the great bandleader and composer Duke Ellington, who was represented by Degas Racing World and Anatomy of a Murder.
Anatomy is the better-known, perhaps only known, of the two and Blanchard played wonderfully on the piece, maybe his best of the night.
The Degas piece was composed for a movie that was never finished when its makers ran out of money, Blanchard said, but the music was released and is understandably hard to find.
It is a beautiful Ellington composition, which included a great duo of trumpet and bass.
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