Terence Blanchard, "The Comedian" (Blue Note)
Yes, this music was used in Taylor Hackford's movie starring Robert DeNiro, Danny DeVito and Leslie Mann, but do not, for a second, think of this as a soundtrack record. It's a first-rate jazz record with some truly great jazz musicians playing music by one of the great living jazz trumpeters, a man who also happens to be one of the more interesting living composers of jazz film music.
It isn't just Terence Blanchard's gorgeous playing that distinguishes this record, even though his way of bending notes on his horn is the most expressive since Miles Davis' heyday. Nor is it the hard bop and jazz ballads he wrote for the film score. It's the rest of his band supporting him and his music, including the likes of tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, pianist Kenny Barron and drummer Carl Allen. It's a great straight-ahead jazz record by some great players.
The counterpoint of Blanchard and Coltrane is particularly fine. Think of it, then, as part of the same genus that once produced the greatest single record of its type, Sonny Rollins' music from "Alfie" in a band which had been arranged by Oliver Nelson. This isn't nearly up to that level but, like that -- one of Rollins' finest records -- it should never be listened to as film music, but rather as a superb jazz record plain and simple.
3 1/2 stars (out of four)