New Orleans is as much a part of Terence Blanchard as his own body.
Throughout his Grammy-winning, Golden Globe-nominated career as a trumpet player, bandleader and composer, Blanchard has remained a proud, faithful resident of his hometown.
In a recent telephone interview with the Mirror, Blanchard spoke with obvious affection about how his fellow musicians were key to helping revive the Crescent City after 2005's disastrous Hurricane Katrina.
Trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard brings his latest tour to Penn State on Tuesday.
"(The music community) was one of the first things to rebound," he said from a San Francisco hotel. "There were some musicians who stayed. These guys were playing, keeping the spirits up.
"For the most part, about 90 percent of the musicians have returned."
Blanchard, 48, has been a resident of New Orleans his whole life, and Katrina had a profound effect on him. His 2007 album "A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina)" was written by Blanchard and the members of his quintet to convey the emotions that Katrina caused in New Orleans residents.
If you go
What: Terence Blanchard
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Schwab Auditorium, Penn State University Park campus
Tickets: $36 for adults, $15 for University Park students and $29 for those ages 18 and younger; tickets available online at www.cpa.psu.edu, by calling 863-0255 or 800-ARTS-TIX or in person at Eisenhower Auditorium, Penn State Tickets Downtown, the Bryce Jordan Center and the HUB-Robeson Center
Blanchard himself was out of town when the storm hit, but his mother's home was lost in the floods.
"A Tale of God's Will" won a Grammy in 2008 for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, but Blanchard wasn't done with Katrina. His latest album, "Choices," was released in July 2009, and the tragedy's stains are once more all over the work.
"'Choices' is kind of a sequel to the last one," Blanchard said. "It's all about the choices we made to put us in the situation we were in in New Orleans. We chose to record the CD in New Orleans to show how we're rebuilding."
The recording was done in the Ogden Museum of Southern Art's Patrick F. Taylor Library. According to the album's press release, the library was built in 1889 and is a survivor of many hurricanes, including Katrina.
"There couldn't have been a more perfect place to record this project," Blanchard says in the release. "The library itself is a survivor, as is this city. While my last album stemmed from Katrina's pain and destruction, 'Choices' will be a celebration of all that has survived and more."
Blanchard will bring his tour in support of "Choices" to Penn State University Park's Schwab Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
With its innovative use of spoken word pieces from Dr. Cornel West, "Choices" has been a critical success since its release, winning the Grand Prix du Disque (the French equivalent of a Grammy Award) for best jazz album. Blanchard also recently won his fourth Grammy, for best jazz instrumental solo, for a guest appearance on Jeff Watts' album "Watts."
"It's nice, ya know," Blanchard said with a laugh. "It makes you feel like you're accomplishing something in some regards. I don't want to diminish it, but I don't want people to feel like we're making music just for Grammys, either."
With all his musical accomplishments, it's easy to forget that Blanchard is perhaps best known as a composer of film scores. He has written scores for more than 50 films, including every release by director Spike Lee since 1991's "Jungle Fever."
His current projects include composing the scores for "Red Tails," a film about the famed Tuskegee Airmen by first-time director Anthony Hemingway, and a sequel to Lee's award-winning documentary about Hurricane Katrina, "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts."
Blanchard's accomplished resume has made the Penn State concert a well-anticipated event.
"The response has been great, ticket-wise. This event is being held in Schwab Auditorium, which is our more intimate setting," said Laura Sullivan, director of marketing at Schwab. "We've had people from Wynton Marsalis to up-and-coming people like Julian Lage, so he fits right in with those kinds of (jazz performers)."
The Blanchard show will be the final event in the current Center for the Performing Arts season. A season that was a success, according to Sullivan.
"I think this has been an excellent season for us," she said. "We did real well on a lot of our performances, so I think this has been a very successful season."
Next season's CPA events will be announced on May 3, Sullivan said, with tickets going on sale to members on May 10.
Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick is at 946-7466.