Terence Blanchard

By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — While jazz fans have long been aware of Terence Blanchard’s brilliance as a trumpeter since his days with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in the early 80s, far more people are aware of his excellence as a composer for various film and television projects. He’s scored many of Spike Lee’s films, earning an Oscar nomination and Grammy award for “BlacKkKlansman.” Most recently he’s provided the score for Lee’s Netflix film “Da 5 Bloods” and also for Regina King’s upcoming film “One Night in Miami,” which will be screened at this year’s Venice International Film Festival.

That same event is honoring Blanchard by presenting him with the Campari Passion for Film award. Blanchard’s won six Grammys in various categories. Early in his career he teamed with alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, both coming to New York from New Orleans shortly after the Marsalis Brothers. But since the early ‘90s, Blanchard’s gotten more attention and acclaim for his film scores. “One Night in Miami,” which explores a meeting between iconic figures Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown, has its world premiere at the festival Sept. 7.

“Not only is Terence Blanchard one of the most important jazz trumpeters of all time, he is also one of the most prolific and sought-after composers of film scores,” Venice Artistic Director Alberto Barbera said in a statement. “His artistic career is distinguished by vigorous musical creations inspired by some of the most painful tragedies in American society, such as the distressing cyclical epidemic of armed violence, especially against Black or Brown citizens. With the soundtrack of “One Night in Miami,” Blanchard adds a new chapter to the powerful musical architecture of his contribution to the themes of our contemporary age, which could not be more aligned with the dramatic events of recent months, culminating in the protests to assert that Black Lives Matter.”

The Campari Passion for Film award is presented to off-screen film industry professionals who, in the words of the Venice festival, “are more than just craftsmen: they are artists and co-authors of the films to which they offer the gift of their unparalleled talent.” Previous winners include American film editor Bob Murawski (“The Hurt Locker”) and Italian cinematographer Luca Bigazzi (“The Great Beauty”). 

Terence Blanchard will receive his award Sept. 7 at Venice’s Palazzo del Cinema on the Sala Grande ahead of the “One Night in Miami” screening. The 77th Venice International Film Festival runs Sept. 2 to 12. Venice will be the first of the major film festivals to be held post-COVID-19.