2008 Tanglewood Jazz Festival

Jason Crane By

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Three years ago, nearly to the day, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The storm and its aftermath were our country's absolute lowest point during my lifetime. Like many, I'd become resigned to the notion that we were capable of starting wars and bombing people in distant places, but the idea that we'd let a city drown right here at home was almost too much to comprehend. Spike Lee's 2006 documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts proved to be a powerful artistic statement about the storm and the human failures that led to the flooding of New Orleans. No evaluation of the film's emotional impact is complete, however, without attending to its score. The film was made even more gripping by the haunting music of trumpeter Terence Blanchard, who composed the soundtrack.

Blanchard decided that the soundtrack by itself wasn't enough, so he and the members of his band created the album A Tale Of God's Will: Requiem For Katrina (Blue Note, 2007). The final performance of the festival was a rare opportunity to hear this music played live by the Blanchard quintet and the 40-piece Tanglewood Jazz Orchestra. There aren't enough adjectives to describe the majesty and sadness of this music. Suffice it to say that it was a concert few in the audience are likely ever to forget.


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