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'BlacKkKlansman' Oscar Nods Hold Extra Meaning

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Tuesday February 05, 2019

From The Los Angeles Times

For Spike Lee and his two longtime collaborators, ‘BlacKkKlansman’ Oscar nods hold extra meaning
By: Mark Olsen

Spike Lee has long been known as a presence courtside at professional basketball games. But not many people realize he has a team of his own in his longtime editor Barry Alexander Brown and composer Terence Blanchard. The trio has been working together since some of Lee’s earliest films – Brown was the editor for 1989’s ‘Do the Right Thing’ and 1988’s ‘School Daze,’ Blanchard the composer on 1991’s ‘Jungle Fever,’ and all three are credited on 1992’s ‘Malcolm X.’ And this year, for the first time, all three are Oscar nominees for their work together.

[…] Blanchard had played trumpet on the scores for ‘School Daze,’ ‘Do the Right Thing’ and ‘Mo’ Better Blues,’ before being asked to take over writing the music himself on ‘Jungle Fever.’

‘And prior to that, I never had aspirations to be a film composer. Ze-ro,’ said Blanchard. ‘I was going to be the next Miles Davis, I was going to change the world playing my horn. But when I saw what was going on and I studied composition, I said, ‘Man, that will be a kind of a cool gig.’ And lo and behold, I got a chance to write something, and then everything turned. My life changed.’

For the music of ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ Lee wanted a rhythm section alongside Blanchard’s signature horns and strings to create a funkier, 1970s-influenced sound. Blanchard turned to the rhythm section of his own band, The E-Collective, but also added the group’s guitar player Charles Altura to play what has become the signature theme of the movie.

‘When I saw the first cut and you see John David Washington walking with those bell-bottom jeans on, for some reason my mind went to Jimi Hendrix playing the national anthem at Woodstock,’ Blanchard said. ‘So I wanted to have a sound from that period that would kind of reflect that. To me, that’s what the electric guitar was all about.’

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