I suppose it's unfair that the first thought that occurred to me on listening to the intro to Wadagbe, the electronically processed second track on Terence Blanchard's new album, Flow, is to wonder what Wynton Marsalis would think of this. Blanchard has been 'the other New Orleans trumpet player' ever since replacing Marsalis - on the latter's recommendation - in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in 1982, and it's hard to avoid making comparisons between them. Their backgrounds are certainly similar. Blanchard studied with Marsalis' father, Ellis, but even if they did start out from the same place they've travelled in markedly different directions. Having made almost as much of a mark with Blakey as Marsalis did, Blanchard has since been best known for his work on the soundtracks to a number of Spike Lee films, including Malcolm X, Mo' Better Blues and Clockers. There's little doubt that he's a first-class soundtrack composer, but he's also continued to move steadily forward as a soloist and bandleader. His career landmark albums to date are, arguably, 1994's Romantic Defiance, 1998's Jazz in Film and 2003's Bounce. Romantic Defiance also featured saxophonist Kenny Garrett, who'll be appearing at City Hall on August 22 in one of the LCSD's Jazz Up series of concerts. Bounce - following Let's Get Lost, which paid tribute to songwriter Jimmy McHugh and featured a remarkable lineup of singers in Diana Krall, Jane Monheit, Dianne Reeves and Cassandra Wilson - was acclaimed by many as his best, and marked his debut on the Blue Note label, where Marsalis is also in residence. Blanchard explored elements of hip-hop, and introduced West African guitarist Lionel Loueke who emerges on Flow as an important creative foil for the leader. Blanchard's latest is a logical extension of Bounce, with a proliferation of world and electronic music elements that would almost certainly make Marsalis wince. Nevertheless, it's an indisputably strong jazz album made by a remarkably potent band, comprising Loueke, saxophonist Brice Winston, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Derrick Hodge, and drummer Kendrick Scott. Replacing Parks on piano on two tracks, to potent effect, is Herbie Hancock, who also produces. Flow is notable as the first Hancock production for another artist since 1987, when he and Michael Cuscuna produced The Other Side of Round Midnight for Dexter Gordon, also on Blue Note. Blanchard's authority as a leader is never in question, and he is the dominant soloist, but this is a band album. Each member contributes at least one composition. Wadagbe is split into two parts and features plenty of the sort of electronic trickery Marsalis so dislikes. It's one of the album's most ambitious tracks, clocking in at a total of almost 15 minutes. It's a deeply African piece, with the guitar used both percussively and melodically alongside chants and various African language vocal effects, and showcases the remarkable rapport between Loueke and Blanchard. Wadagbe features Loueke playing acoustically, but he also has a fierce electric style, and the aggression of his guitar work on some tracks put me in mind of John McLaughlin with Davis about the time of Bitches Brew. With its Spanish feel, Harvesting Dance - the Parks composition with which the album concludes - would have slipped easily into an early 1970s Davis set, and is easily in the class of some of Chick Corea's Iberian-inspired work. Perhaps Hancock's involvement also has something to do with the echoes of Davis, although his influence does seem to have recently come to the fore in Blanchard's playing, and the almost epigrammatic concision of some particularly well placed phrases makes the comparison an apt one. This is most definitely an album that makes you want to see the band live, and according to Blanchard it's representative of the lineup's in concert sound. 'What you hear on this record is the way we play live,' he says. 'That's the thing about this band. What we're talking about is their musicianship. They find spaces to put things in spots that make sense. With this band I just feel born again. It's because it's given me new life and just piqued my curiosity to work hard again and really try to grow and develop and just be an artist. I'm really having so much fun with this band.'