Terence Blanchard is a jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer, arranger, and Golden Globe-nominated film score composer. Since he emerged on the scene in 1980 with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and then shortly thereafter with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Blanchard has been a leading artist in jazz. He was an integral figure in the 1980s jazz resurgence having recorded several award-winning albums and having performed with the jazz elite. He is known as a straight-ahead artist in the hard bop tradition but has recently utilized an African-fusion style of playing that makes him unique from other trumpeters on the performance circuit. However, it is as a film composer that Blanchard reaches his widest audience. His trumpet can be heard on nearly fifty film scores; more than forty bear his unmistakable compositional style. Since 2000, Blanchard has served as Artistic Director at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. He lives in the Garden District of New Orleans with his wife and four children.
Terence Oliver Blanchard was born March 13, 1962, in New Orleans, Louisiana, the only child to parents Wilhelmina and Joseph Oliver. Terence began playing piano at the age of five and then the trumpet at age eight upon hearing Alvin Alcorn play. Blanchard played trumpet recreationally alongside childhood friend Wynton Marsalis in summer music camps but showed no real proficiency on the instrument. Then, while in high school, he began studying at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) under Roger Dickerson and Ellis Marsalis, Jr.. From 1980 to 1982, Blanchard studied under jazz saxophonist Paul Jeffrey and trumpeter Bill Fielder at Rutgers University, while touring with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. In 1982, Wynton Marsalis recommended Blanchard to replace him in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and until 1986, Blanchard was the band's trumpeter and musical director. With Blakey and as co-leader of a quintet with saxophonist Donald Harrison and pianist Mulgrew Miller, Blanchard rose to prominence as a key figure in the 1980s Jazz Resurgence. The Harrison/Blanchard group recorded five albums from 1984-1988 until Blanchard left to pursue a solo career in 1990.
In the 1990s, after a laborious but successful embouchure change, Blanchard was as busy as ever. He recorded his self-titled debut for Columbia Records which reached third on the Billboard Jazz Charts. After performing on soundtracks for Spike Lee movies, including Do the Right Thing and Mo' Better Blues, Lee wanted Blanchard to compose the scores for his films beginning with "Jungle Fever" (1991). Blanchard has written the score for every Spike Lee film since including, Malcolm X, Clockers, Summer of Sam, 25th Hour, Inside Man. In 2006, he composed the score for Spike Lee's 4-hour Hurricane Katrina documentary for HBO entitled When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. Blanchard also appeared in front of the camera with his mother to share their emotional journey back to find her home completely destroyed.