MIA: Spike Lee’s Movie Composer Opens Jazz Roots Series


Spike Lee’s movie composer Terence Blanchard will kick off the Jazz Roots series with The Movie Music of Spike Lee and Terence Blanchard opening on Nov. 6 in the Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center with a spectacular concert exploring his memorable musical scores of movies by the director. The event is also presented by the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music as a part of Festival Miami.

The evening will feature a montage of classic scenes from Spike Lee movies performed by Blanchard and his quintet of his jazz-infused scores. Joining them are Grammy nominated vocalist Maysa who performed on the Jungle Fever soundtrack, Grammy winner for 20 feet From Stardom Judith Hill, three-time Grammy and Tony winner Dee Dee Bridgewater, rising R&B/Jazz and gospel vocalist Lizz Wright and the Frost school of Music’s Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra; the group performs each year in the Jazz Roots series.

The night also pays tribute to the late Jazz Roots founder Larry Rosen and friend to of Blanchard who was almost signed to Rosen’s contemporary jazz record label GRP, but the company was sold before the deal was finalized.

Blanchard is an internationally known jazz trumpet player who has scored over 50 films, with Lee’s Chiraq being the latest, and is considered the most prolific jazz musician to ever compose for movies. He has recorded over 30 solo albums and has been awarded five Grammy awards.

He started his musical career with Lionel Hampton’s orchestra and then played with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. But Lee was the first person to really see Blanchard’s potential for writing music specially for movies. They met on set of the 1990 film Mo’ Better Blues where the trumpeter was hired to coach Denzel Washington on how to look authentic as musician Bleek Gilliam.

The jazz musician also has a relationship with the Frost School. From 2011 to 2014 he was the artistic director of the Mancini Institute Orchestra, an elite graduate student ensemble that gives young musicians at the University of Miami professional and performing experience.