Home » Jazz Articles » Terence Blanchard featuring The E-Collective: Absence


Album Review

Terence Blanchard featuring The E-Collective: Absence


Sign in to view read count
Terence Blanchard featuring The E-Collective: Absence
Trumpeter Terence Blanchard and the E-Collective's Absence is dedicated to saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter, who for health reasons has been obliged to retire from performing, at least temporarily. Some people celebrating their 88th birthday, as Shorter did on August 25 2021, might not welcome being the dedicatee of an album with such a title. They might consider a more appropriate choice of words to be Presence or even I'm Feeling Fine Thanks For Asking. But you never know with Shorter who is, in many respects, in a category of his own and who, one hopes, had Absence run past him in advance by his label mate. Perhaps we should be thankful Blanchard's album is not titled Mr Gone, after Shorter's high school nickname.

Anyway, there it is. Absence is dedicated to Shorter for "being brilliant" and one cannot argue with that. Shorter has been shining a light as a soloist and as a composer and arranger since the late 1950s under his own name and as a featured sideperson; Art Blakey's The Jazz Messengers (1959—1964), Miles Davis' second great quintet (1965—1968) and Weather Report (1971—1985) are among the latter highlights.

Blanchard has long had a penchant for string ensembles and the plugged-in E-Collective is augmented on all but one of these twelve tracks by the Turtle Island Quartet. The addition of a neo-classical string quartet to Blanchard's digital-age quintet—three of whom, including Blanchard, double on synths—works well. That said, the least effective track is the strings-only "The Second Wave," a busy but inconsequential piece written and arranged by violinist David Balakrishman, which runs just shy of eleven minutes; too long, particularly so on a forty-six minute album.

On the upside, Blanchard's electro-acoustic arrangement of Shorter's "Fall," first heard on Miles Davis' Nefertiti (Columbia, 1968), is so striking that one cannot help wishing Absence was mostly, if not entirely, composed of Shorter pieces (more than half the tracks here were written by Blanchard and his colleagues, and are too often borderline overblown). For among modern reimaginings of Shorter's early work, this "Fall" is up there with the Robert Glasper-led Blue Note All-Stars' treatment of "Masqualero," first heard on Davis' Sorcerer (Columbia, 1967), on the All Stars' album Our Point Of View (Blue Note, 2017), which also benefited from the presence of original cast members Herbie Hancock on keys and Shorter himself on soprano saxophone.

Track Listing

Absence; The Elders; Fall; I Dare You (Intro); I Dare You; Envisioned Reflections (Intro); Envisioned Reflections; The Second Wave; When It Was Now; Dark Horse; Diana; More Elders.


Terence Blanchard: trumpet; Charles Altura: guitar; Fabian Almazan: piano; David Ginyard: bass; Oscar Seaton: drums; David Balakirshnan: violin; Benjamin von Gutzeit: viola; Gabe Terraciano: violin; Malcolm Parson: cello.

Additional Instrumentation

Terence Blanchard: trumpet, synths; Charles Altura: guitar; Fabian Almazan: piano, synths; David Ginyard: bass, synths; Oscar Seaton: drums; David Balakirshnan: violin (1-9, 11, 12); Benjamin von Gutzeit: viola (1-9, 11, 12); Gabe Terraciano: violin (1-9, 11, 12); Malcolm Parson: cello (1-9, 11, 12).

Album information

Title: Absence | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

Post a comment about this album

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.




On the record

Vibes on a Breath
Ted Piltzecker
Jonathan Karrant
Brazilian Match
Luiz Millan
Double Portrait
Giuseppe Millaci and the Vogue Trio

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.