The next UGA Presents event features a Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter, an Oscar-nominated film scorer and the first Black composer to have a work produced by the Metropolitan Opera. They’re all one man: Terence Blanchard.
On Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Hodgson Concert Hall, Blanchard appears with not one, but two groups. He’ll be joined by his own band, the E-Collective, and the Turtle Island String Quartet. They’ll play music from their album “Absence,” a tribute to the late jazz master Wayne Shorter, whose genre-spanning music has inspired Blanchard’s own.
Recorded in February 2020 at the Mo Austin Recording Studio at UCLA just before the COVID-19 lockdowns, “Absence” started out as a project to show gratitude to Shorter.
“I knew that Wayne wasn’t feeling well at the time, so I wanted to honor him to let him know how much he has meant to me,” 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. This album is about composition—not just his works but writing our own music to see how much he’s influenced us.”
Five Shorter tunes are spotlighted on “Absence,” in addition to originals by Blanchard, E-Collective guitarist Charles Altura and E-Collective bassist David Ginyard. There’s also one by David Balakrishnan, violinist and artistic director of the Grammy-winning Turtle Island, which since 1985 has played a fusion of jazz, classical, world music and other styles.
“Obviously I’ve worked with strings in my career,” Blanchard said. “But Turtle Island has reimagined the language for the string quartet. It’s extremely unique, and what they do is brilliant. Playing together, it’s like a chamber jazz ensemble.”
Blanchard is a musical polymath who launched his solo career as a bandleader in the 1990s. Since then, he has released 20 solo albums, garnered 14 Grammy nominations, composed for more than 60 films, and received 10 major commissions. Blanchard is also heralded as a two-time opera composer whose “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” is based on the memoir of New York Times columnist Charles Blow.
The Metropolitan Opera premiered “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” to open its 2021-22 season, making it the first opera composed by an African American composer to premiere at the Met in its 138-year history. The recording of those performances received a Grammy award for Best Opera Recording, and The New York Times heralded the work as “inspiring,” “subtly powerful” and “a bold and affecting adaptation of Charles Blow’s memoir.”
Audiences can also enjoy a free pre-performance talk by Gregory Satterthwaite and James Weidman in Ramsey Concert Hall from 6:45-7:15 p.m.
This season’s UGA Presents jazz events include a sold-out holiday concert by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on Nov. 27, a solo evening with pianist Brad Mehldau on Feb. 4 and the vintage pop of Max Raabe and Palast Orchester on March 12.
Three ways to get tickets
- Purchase tickets online at pac.uga.edu.
- Call the Performing Arts Center box office at 706-542-4400, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Visit the UGA Performing Arts Center box office, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (five-minute parking is available in the drop off circle at the Performing Arts Center for purchasing or picking up tickets.)
Single tickets begin at $25, and UGA student tickets are just $10. Parking is free.
To learn more about all UGA Performing Arts Center events, visit pac.uga.edu.