Terence Blanchard Group, "Choices"
In the wake of Terence Blanchard's 2008 Grammy Award-winning album "A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina)," the New Orleans-based trumpeter/composer embarks on a new, dramatic song cycle that plumbs the depths of personal and societal decision-making. In addition to his band, "Choices" features special guests: Lionel Loueke provides imaginative guitar parts, Dr. Cornel West delivers provocative spoken-word interludes, and vocalist Bilal sings on a pair of R&B beauties. Blanchard has never sounded better on trumpet-his most passionate playing appears on the samba-like "Journey," on which he supports Bilal, and the 12-minute lyrical sojourn "Winding Roads." Other standouts include the Bilal-sung "When Will You Call" and the upbeat "Robin's Choice." --Dan Ouellette