Terence Blanchard: Taxi Driver
Terence Blanchard (trumpet)
Jazz in Film (Sony Classical SK 60671)
Kenny Kirkland (piano), Reginald Veal (bass), Carl Allen (drums). Orchestra conducted by J.A.C. Redford.
Composed by Bernard Herrmann.
Recorded: Los Angeles, March 17-18, 1998
Rating: 97/100 (learn more)
Terence Blanchard's accomplished Jazz in Film extends from Alex North's groundbreaking score for A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) to one of the trumpeter's own film scores, for Spike Lee's Clockers (1995). One of the most striking interpretations, if only based on the strength of Blanchard's and Joe Henderson's solos, is "Taxi Driver," from Bernard Herrmann's final score, for Martin Scorsese's searing and upsetting 1976 film of that name. Herrmann's main theme may be too forlornly gorgeous for a character as disturbing and repugnant as Robert DeNiro's Travis Bickle, and also doesn't do justice to the seamy, violent and crumbling New York City of the '70's, but it is an undeniably entrancing creation nonetheless.
The orchestra's supple intro remains faithful to Herrmann's own, after which Blanchard tenderly and glowingly intones the bittersweet melody, then repeated by Henderson before a unison reading by trumpet and tenor above the swelling strings. A melancholy interlude by the orchestra, containing also a tinge of foreboding, precedes Blanchard's moving solo, with its irresistibly melodic development and captivating vocalized effects. Henderson's entry is typical, a fluttering, succinct phrase that he embellishes before progressing to the meat of his statement, characterized by swooping runs and graceful legato transitions that culminate in a satisfying resolution. The two horns and the orchestra now play a pensive refrain, after which Blanchard reiterates Herrmann's theme.
Reviewer: Scott Albin