Although it's been almost four years since Terence Blanchard's last album, it's not as if the trumpeter hasn't kept busy. In addition to the Poncho Sanchez collaboration "Chano y Dizzy," he's remained a first-call film composer (with Spike Lee's "If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise" and George Lucas' "Red Tails" among his latest), and in his spare time wrote an opera, which debuts in St. Louis next month.
Though Blanchard has no shortage of outlets, he still sounds overflowing with inspiration. Again surrounded by top-tier young talent, Blanchard is equally at home with the unsettled atmospherics of "Hallucinations" as with the hard-swinging "Don't Run," which features stirring guest-turns from Ravi Coltrane on soprano saxophone and bassist Ron Carter. Fabian Almazan's solo piano piece "Comet" is another highlight, while the brief "Another Step" carries the intergalactic drive of Miles Davis' electric era.
But the record's core may lie with "Pet Step Sitter's Theme Song," which features a frenzied turn from Almazan paired with Blanchard's electronically doubled horn that closes into a pattering vocal from guest Lionel Loueke that sounds like a prayer.
The resemblance isn't an accident. Always open with his inspirations (his 2009 album "Choices" featured spoken-word interludes from activist Cornel West), Blanchard is said to be inspired by a recent exploration of Buddhism. His journey in "Magnetic" may take many turns, but it's worth sticking with.
Three stars (out of four)Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times