Terence Blanchard, now at the Jazz Bakery, has been gaining a reputation as a writer of superior movie scores . But because of his prowess as a trumpeter and leader, he remains a major force on the jazz scene.
Blanchard, whose current album is a tribute to Billie Holiday, opened Thursday with a slow, haunting version of "Lady Sings the Blues," a song written for and recorded by her. He immediately showed himself capable of a rare emotional poignancy.
His technical brilliance also is beyond question and, unlike some of his contemporaries, he rarely indulges in displays of fireworks. His sound is notable for its clarity and consistency.
Blanchard has three valuable sidemen: Bruce Barth, a pianist whose crisp articulation provided some of the evening's most rewarding moments; Chris Thomas, an outstanding bassist, and the dependable Troy Davis on drums.
Agreeably jazz-tinged singer Jeanie Bryson completes the group, singing two Holiday-associated tunes on each set. Her "Detour Ahead" was prefaced by a beautiful Blanchard chorus.
* Terence Blanchard quartet at Jazz Bakery, 3221 Hutchinson Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 271-9039. $20 cover tonight, $15 Sunday. Shows tonight at 8:30 and 10:15, Sunday at 8 p.m.