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Trumpet as an Instrument of Protest

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Thursday June 07, 2018

From The Boston Globe

In Terence Blanchard’s hands, a trumpet is an instrument of protest
By: Bill Beuttler

Terence Blanchard didn’t have politics in mind when he formed the E-Collective. The idea was for Blanchard and the band that will accompany him to Scullers Jazz Club Thursday and Friday — Charles Altura on guitar, Fabian Almazan on piano and keyboards, David Ginyard on bass, Oscar Seaton on drums — to play a groove-oriented repertoire that would inspire young musicians disinclined toward jazz to master instrumental music.

While they were touring Europe in summer 2014, however, Michael Brown was shot to death in Ferguson, Mo. Trayvon Martin had been fatally shot in Florida two years earlier, and similar incidents involving the deaths of African-Americans followed with depressing regularity. The group responded with the 2015 album “Breathless,” a reference to Eric Garner dying in a chokehold after telling arresting officers in Staten Island “I can’t breathe.”

“It just becomes very frustrating to think that this was a guy who in his mind was doing all the right things,” says Blanchard, reached by phone recently in Washington, D.C. “This dude had a job, he worked at a school where the kids adored him, he had a weapon, he had it registered legally, and did what he was told to do when the cop approached him. He told him that it was registered, and the cop didn’t see what we saw, the cop didn’t see who those kids saw. The cop didn’t see any of that. The cop saw a black man with a weapon, and killed him.”

Blanchard spoke having just visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “One of the things that struck me is that this notion of dark-skinned people being threatening is something that was never created by dark-skinned people,” he says. “Prior to slavery, we were just people of color living amongst other folks, and from the time that we were brought here, we’ve been fighting for the right to be equal. There comes a point where you have to sit down and say, ‘Enough is enough.’

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