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A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina)

A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina) is a studio album recorded in 2007 by the Terence Blanchard Quintet. The album was originally released on August 14, 2007 (2007-08-14) via Blue Note label .

A Tale of God's Will
(A Requiem for Katrina)
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 14, 2007 (2007-08-14)
StudioConway Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California; Bastyr University, Kenmore, Washington
LabelBlue Note
ProducerTerence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard chronology
A Tale of God's Will
(A Requiem for Katrina)

Professional ratings
Review scores
All About Jazz4/5 stars[1]
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[2]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[3]
PopMatters9/10 stars[4]

In 2008, Blanchard won a Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, and was nominated for Best Jazz Instrument Solo for his work on the song "Levees".[6]



Film director Spike Lee commissioned New Orleans native Terence Blanchard to compose the score for his 2006 four-hour HBO documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, to show the agony of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In 2007 Blanchard recorded "A Tale of God's Will", which contains parts ("The Water", "Levees", "Wading Through", and "Funeral Dirge") of the recording that were heard in Lee's documentary. Blanchard's mother, Wilhelmina, lost her Pontchartrain Park home in the tragedy but survived.[7] The recording closes with "Dear Mom", Blanchard's heartfelt tribute to her.

Blanchard was accompanied by his quintet and the Northwest Sinfonia, a 40-member string orchestra (which he conducted and co-orchestrated). All the songs were written by four members of Blanchard's Quintet and serve to offer their own perspective of the tragedy. The opening track, "Ghosts of Congo Square", is a vibrant Afro-Cuban-style rhythm track that represents a place where those who resisted slavery were publicly hanged. Later, after the days of slavery had ended, Congo Square became a place where local people would gather and share the percussion music that their ancestors brought with them from Africa. The second track, "Levees", opens with melancholy strings, provided by the Northwest Sinfonia orchestra, and as Blanchard's trumpet eases into the mix, one can imagine old and tired levees straining to hold back the water that never ceases to push against them.[citation needed] For the tracks "Ghost of Betsy" and "The Water", Blanchard drew on his own experiences as a little boy when Hurricane Betsy flooded his Lower 9th Ward neighborhood in 1965. He intended "Funeral Dirge" as a dignified repast for a montage of dead bodies. Pianist Aaron Parks contributed "Ashe" as a benediction. Drummer Kendrick Scott describes his "Mantra" as a "mantra for healing and renewal." Bassist Derrick Hodge's lush "Over There", written before Katrina, nonetheless fit the CD's theme. Saxophonist Brice Winston wrote "In Time of Need" after moving with his family from New Orleans to Tucson, Arizona.[8]


Will Layman of PopMatters awarded the album nine points out of 10, stating "Taken as a whole, two elements of this recording stand out. First, Blanchard and his group play selflessly, without reaching for flashy effects or long solos. Everything about this record is about bringing the compositions to full fruition, and the improvisation always sounds integrated with the full purpose of the music. Second, every element of the record is incorporated into its theme. Even the tracks that are somewhat disparate (a swinging duet between bass and trumpet on "Ghost of Betsy" and a fragmentary tenor solo on "Ghost of 1927", particularly) play as interludes that breathe life into the project between larger movements."[4] Larry Blumenfeld of Entertainment Weekly commented "Accompanied by an orchestra, Blanchard’s quintet moves elegantly from African rhythms to modern swing to balladic repose, his horn’s curled pleas and soaring declarations channeling both pain and resilience. It’s the Katrina story CNN can’t tell, masterfully told".[3] John Swenson of OffBeat added "A Tale of God’s Will is an expansion of the music Blanchard and his band made for the Lee documentary, and it moves with the epic scope of the flood itself"[9].

A reviewer of Reuters noted "What started as a gig scoring Spike Lee’s HBO documentary “When the Levees Broke” has been imaginatively expanded by trumpeter Terence Blanchard into this epic-length, orchestral-string masterwork. As the two-year anniversary of the New Orleans deluge approaches, the Crescent City native delivers his compelling and poignant reflections on the catastrophe, with the support of his quintet and the 40-piece Northwest Sinfonia. In the tunes, there is anger and angst, lush melody and woeful wails, pockets of grace and flood waters of melancholy. Four “Levees” numbers are in the mix, with revitalized arrangements, including the prodding, ominous “The Water” and the painfully anguished “Funeral Dirge.” Of particular note are three impromptu short “ghost” pieces, as well as originals by Blanchard’s band members, highlighted by pianist Aaron Park’s lyrical gem “Ashe” and saxophonist Brice Winston’s heart-rending “In Time of Need.”[10] Chris May of All About Jazz wrote "Blanchard's no-frills, in-the-tradition, testifying trumpet, which is the main solo voice, rings out powerfully and affectingly throughout. He blows like a blues player sings, by turns angry, plaintive, stoic, hopeful and elegiac—and, almost tangibly, always from the heart".[1]

Track listingEdit

All tracks written by Terence Blanchard except where noted.

1."Ghost of Congo Square" (Blanchard, Hodge, Scott)3:01
3."Wading Through"6:27
4."Ashé" (Aaron Parks)8:18
5."In Time of Need" (Brice Winston)7:53
6."Ghost of Betsy"1:58
7."The Water"4:07
8."Mantra Intro" (Kendrick Scott)3:22
9."Mantra" (Kendrick Scott)9:49
10."Over There" (Derrick Hodge)7:43
11."Ghost of 1927"1:38
12."Funeral Dirge"5:51
13."Dear Mom"3:39
Total length:69:13





Chart (2007) Peak
US Top Jazz Albums[12] 6


  1. ^ a b May, Chris (November 21, 2007). "Terence Blanchard: Choices". All About Jazz. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Blumenfeld, Larry (August 24, 2007). "A Tale of God's Will". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b LAYMAN, WILL (14 August 2007). "Terence Blanchard: A Tale of Gods Will". PopMatters. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  5. ^ "A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  6. ^ 2008 Grammy Award list Archived 2007-12-08 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ NOLO: And the winners might be
  8. ^ The Times-Picayune: Terence Blanchard Interview
  9. ^ Swenson, John (1 September 2007). "Terence Blanchard, A Tale Of God's Will (A Requiem For Katrina) (Blue Note)". OffBeat. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  10. ^ "Billboard CD reviews: Thompson, Blanchard". Reuters. August 11, 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  11. ^ "A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina) - Terence Blanchard | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  12. ^ Billboard Chart

External linksEdit