Magnetic marks Terence Blanchard's return to Blue Note Records after an eight-year sojourn in which he wrote and performed large scale works for film, and cut smaller group offerings for Concord. He utilizes his fine live band in the studio here -- tenor saxophonist Brice Winston, drummer Kendrick Scott, dazzling pianist Fabian Almazan, and 21-year-old bassist Joshua Crumbly. Bassist Ron Carter guests on a pair of tracks, as does saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, while guitarist Lionel Loueke plays on three. Blanchard composed four tracks here, and the members of his quintet all contributed selections -- Almazan even has an unaccompanied solo piece on the record. Given the variety of composers, this is a more musically diverse set than the trumpeter has offered in a while. His title track utilizes funky syncopation and electronics on his horn (they play a part on most of his tunes) as the band engages knotty post-bop and modalism with gorgeous breakbeats by Scott and a fine solo by Winston. Almazan's "Pet Step Sitter's Theme Song," with Coltrane and Loueke, commences with an arpeggiated Latin tinge on piano before the frontline enters and begins to deconstruct it, using just enough of the theme to create a jumping off point for muscular abstraction. Loueke's guitar effects become a lovely foil for Coltrane's solo, and provide a bridge between the soloist and pianist. The electronics in Blanchard's solo multiply his lines which alternately deftly skate and take on the rhythm section. Scott's "No Borders Just Horizons" implies a kind of swinging, modal post-bop before it moves into Latin terrain and shifts back in Winston's solo ending, somewhere outside all these touch points. Blanchard's "Central Focus" is almost straight-ahead post-bop with elements of New Orleans jazz tossed into his solo. Winston's "Time to Spare" is introduced by a tight yet complex lyric line, and when joined by Blanchard and the rhythm section, the tune becomes an uptempo groover. His solo engages intensely with the rhythm section. With its wealth of ideas, colors, and textures, Magnetic is evidence of a band firing on all cylinders with enthusiasm, imagination, and considerable sophistication.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek