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Terence Blanchard, Award-Winning Musician and Composer, to Lead SFJAZZ

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a Black man with glasses in a long-sleeve black shirt with his arms crossed
Acclaimed trumpeter, pianist and composer Terence Blanchard will be the second executive director in SFJAZZ's history. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Terence Blanchard, an Academy Award-nominated and Grammy-winning jazz musician and composer, will be the new executive artistic director at SFJAZZ, the organization announced June 8.

Known for his rich and lively film scores, which have appeared in notable Spike Lee films like Da 5 Bloods and BlacKkKlansman, Blanchard has carved out an indelible presence within the contemporary jazz scene. In 2021, he was the first Black composer to have an opera staged at the Metropolitan Opera, breaking a long legacy of exclusion.

Blanchard will succeed SFJAZZ executive artistic director and founder Randall Kline, who plans to step down from his role in November. Blanchard will lead the organization’s artistic programming, with duties including planning year-round concerts, community engagement events and educational opportunities.

Blanchard will also head the organization’s creative direction, with a goal of ushering in a new era of forward-thinking artistry. In a 2021 conversation with writer Hua Hsu, Blanchard discussed the roles jazz greats John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk have had in his development as a musician. “But I’m not trying to be them,” said Blanchard. “I’m trying to find the sound for my generation.”

a Black man with black glasses in a denim jacket stands in a window, you can see the letters spelling 'SFJAZZ' on the building behind him
Incoming SFJAZZ Executive Artistic Director Terence Blanchard at SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco. (Scott Chernis)

Dedicated to honoring the traditions of jazz music and its importance in Black culture and history, Blanchard is also looking towards the ways the genre is evolving and expanding — and incorporating that into SFJAZZ programming. In the announcement, Blanchard discussed his plans for the role: “I am looking forward to collaborating with the staff while also bringing my own ideas about how to move our music forward and continue the SFJAZZ mission to explore the full spectrum of jazz — from its origins to its diverse and evolving expressions around the world today.”

Terence Blanchard will join SFJAZZ for its 40th San Francisco Jazz Festival, which began June 7, as well as its 2023-2024 season, which begins Sept. 7.

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