January 6, 2014 marked the 75th Anniversary of Blue Note Records, the most-respected and longest-running Jazz label in the world, which was founded when a German immigrant and passionate Jazz fan named Alfred Lion produced his first recording session on January 6, 1939 in New York City. Blue Note has gone on to represent The Finest In Jazz, tracing the entire history of the music from Hot Jazz, Boogie Woogie, and Swing, through Bebop, Hard Bop, Post Bop, Soul Jazz, Avant-Garde, and Fusion, and into Jazz’s numerous modern day incarnations under the leadership of Bruce Lundvall, who revived Blue Note in 1984, and the label’s current President Don Was, who took the helm in 2012.
Blue Note will celebrate its 75th Anniversary throughout 2014 with a series of live events beginning with a concert on January 8 as part of NYC Winter Jazzfest at The Town Hall in New York featuring two of the label’s leading artists: Robert Glasper and Jason Moran. The label will also be honored with a GRAMMY Museum exhibition, book releases, and various vinyl, CD, and digital catalog initiatives, as well as new releases from the label’s current artists. Blue Note has also launched a Facebook app that allows fans to put their own face into classic Blue Note cover artwork designs by Reid Miles.
ROBERT GLASPER & JASON MORAN AT THE TOWN HALL
On January 6, 1939, Blue Note founder Alfred Lion brought two Boogie Woogie pianists – Albert Ammons and Meade “Lux” Lewis – into a studio in New York City to produce the very first Blue Note recording session. On January 8, 2014, two of Blue Note’s current pianists – Robert Glasper and Jason Moran – will celebrate the label’s 75 year history by beginning with Ammons and Lewis and presenting their personal Blue Note touchstones as well as their music from their own considerable catalogs. The concert – which is being presented by NYC Winter Jazzfest – will also feature bassist Alan Hampton and drummer Eric Harland, as well as special guests vocalist Bilal and saxophonist and Blue Note artist Ravi Coltrane. Tickets are available at http://smarturl.it/bn75-townhall.
OTHER LIVE EVENTS
January 9 – NYC Winter Jazzfest & Summerstage present the Revive Big Band at (le) poisson rouge celebrating Blue Note Records 75th Anniversary featuring special guests. Click here for more info.
February 20-March 1 – Portland Jazz Festival presents Blue Note @ 75 featuring Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band, Eliane Elias, Dave Frishberg & Bob Dorough, and Bobby Watson & Horizon. Click here for more info.
May 11 – Jason Moran, who also serves as the Artistic Advisor for Jazz at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC will present Blue Note At 75, The Concert. As the culminating event of a celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Blue Note Records, artists from the label's present and past roster perform including Moran, Norah Jones, Wayne Shorter, and surprise special guests. Click here for more info.
**Additional live events will be announced throughout the year.
GRAMMY MUSEUM EXHIBITION
The GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles will honor Blue Note’s 75 year legacy with an exhibition that is set to open in March. The exhibit will present the label’s iconic artwork and photography, as well as artifacts and music.
BRUCE LUNDVALL’S BIOGRAPHY
Blue Note’s former President and current Chairman Emeritus Bruce Lundvall – who re-launched Blue Note in 1984 and presided over the label’s flourishing for over 25 years – will release his biography Playing By Ear (written with author Dan Ouellette) through ArtistShare this month. Click here for more info.
Blue Note will commence an extensive vinyl reissue initiative on March 25 with the release of five classic titles (Art Blakey Free For All, John Coltrane Blue Train, Eric Dolphy Out To Lunch, Wayne Shorter Speak No Evil, and Larry Young Unity). The vinyl releases are set to continue monthly and will also include modern classics from Blue Note’s recent catalog such as Joe Lovano Quartets: Live At The Vanguard, Jason Moran Soundtrack To Human Motion, and Terence Blanchard Flow. For Record Store Day in April, Blue Note will also reissue the label’s first two releases as limited edition 12” vinyl: Meade “Lux” Lewis “Melancholy”/”Solitude” (BN1) and Albert Ammons “Boogie Woogie Stomp”/”Boogie Woogie Blues” (BN2). Other catalog releases including a 75 track digital bundle spanning Blue Note’s entire history will be announced shortly.
Blue Note continues to maintain an incomparable roster of current talent, and 2014 will see new releases from trumpeters Takuya Kuroda (Rising Son, February 18) and Ambrose Akinmusire (the imagined savior is far easier to paint, March 11), as well as artists beyond Jazz such as Rosanne Cash (The River & The Thread, January 14) and Benmont Tench (You Should Be So Lucky, February 18). Further new releases will soon be announced from Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band, Jason Moran, Joe Lovano/Dave Douglas Soundprints Quintet, José James, and two Blue Note legends: Bobby Hutcherson in a quartet with David Sanborn, Joey DeFrancesco and Billy Hart, and Wayne Shorter whose return to Blue Note Without A Net figured prominently in several Best of 2013 lists.
BLUE NOTE APPS
Blue Note has proved itself to be an innovator not only musically but also technologically, most notably with the 2012 release of our much-heralded Blue Note Spotify App, which created a space within the popular streaming service to explore and discover music spanning the entire history of the label, as well as the Blue Note by Groovebug App which is available for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users. Now Blue Note has introduced a fun Facebook App that allows fans to insert their own face into classic Blue Note covers. Choose between six cover artwork designs by influential designer Reid Miles and see how you would look on the cover of your own Blue Note record!
It took the joining of many natural forces to create and define one of the greatest Jazz labels there has ever been: Jazz-loving German immigrants on the run from Nazism (Alfred Lion & Francis Wolff), a New Jersey optometrist moonlighting as a recording engineer (Rudy Van Gelder), a classical music-loving commercial designer (Reid Miles), and slews of the most incredible musicians that have ever walked the earth (too many to name them all here). The elements that each brought to the table—impeccable A&R instincts, elegant and insightful photography, sterling sound quality, strikingly original cover artwork, and consistently transcendent music—were all essential to the label's early success. Together they created a vivid Blue Note identity. The whole could not have existed without each of the parts.
Blue Note’s legendary catalog traces the entire history of the music from Hot Jazz, Boogie Woogie, and Swing, through Bebop, Hard Bop, Post Bop, Soul Jazz, Avant-Garde, Fusion, and on. The label’s stars from the early years form a true Who’s Who: Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Jimmy Smith, Grant Green, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Donald Byrd, Andrew Hill, Ornette Coleman.
After a brief dormancy from 1981-1984 during which producer/historian Michael Cuscuna kept the label’s legacy alive with a series of reissues on EMI, Blue Note returned reinvigorated by the leadership of Bruce Lundvall and has since established itself as the most respected Jazz label in the world. Blue Note is still home to some of the most prominent stars and cutting-edge innovators in Jazz today, and at the same time has broadened its horizons to include quality music in many genres.
Under Lundvall’s stewardship, Blue Note had its share of commercial successes from Bobby McFerrin, Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Us3, Medeski Martin & Wood, Norah Jones, Al Green, Anita Baker, Amos Lee, Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis. The label also remained a haven for the most creative voices in Jazz including Ambrose Akinmusire, Patricia Barber, Brian Blade, Terence Blanchard, Don Byron, Kurt Elling, Robert Glasper, Stefon Harris, Charlie Hunter, Lionel Loueke, Joe Lovano, Jason Moran, Greg Osby, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, John Scofield, Jacky Terrasson, Chucho Valdes, and many more.
In 2011, veteran record producer and musician Don Was joined Blue Note as Chief Creative Officer and soon became President of the label with Lundvall continuing to provide guidance as Chairman Emeritus. With Was at the helm, Blue Note has renewed its dedication to Lion’s original vision that “any particular style of playing which represents an authentic way of musical feeling is genuine expression.” In the 21st century Lion’s words still ring true and provide a blueprint that includes Robert Glasper Experiment’s visionary melding of Jazz, R&B, and Hip-Hop and Elvis Costello’s funky collaboration with The Roots, as well as bringing the legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter back to the label where he made his early classic albums, and continuing to sign singular voices in Jazz such as saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and vocalist Gregory Porter. Blue Note Records is one of the flagship labels of the Capitol Music Group.