The 75th Anniversary of Blue Note Records, the most-respected and longest-running Jazz label in the world, is being commemorated throughout 2014 and beyond with a broad range of special releases and events. Blue Note is pleased to announce a new vinyl reissue series of 100 essential remastered Jazz albums spanning both the classic and modern eras of the label. The series will launch on March 25 with five iconic LPs: Art Blakey Free For All, John Coltrane Blue Train, Eric Dolphy Out To Lunch, Wayne Shorter Speak No Evil, and Larry Young Unity. On the same date, the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles will launch Blue Note Records: The Finest In Jazz, a one-of-a-kind exhibit offering visitors an in-depth look at the legendary record label. On the evening of March 25, the museum will host a special public event, “An Evening With Blue Note Records,” featuring a Q&A with Blue Note Records President Don Was.
“any particular style of playing which represents an authentic way of musical feeling is genuine expression.”
Blue Note Records was founded on January 6, 1939, when a German immigrant and passionate Jazz fan named Alfred Lion produced his first recording session 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.
GRAMMY MUSEUM EXHIBITION AND LAUNCH EVENT DETAILS
On March 25, The GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles will unveil Blue Note Records: The Finest In Jazz. Located in the Mike Curb Gallery on the Museum’s fourth floor, this one-of-a-kind exhibit will offer visitors an in-depth look at the legendary record label through music, album artwork, photographs, artifacts, interviews and more.
On the evening of March 25, the museum will launch the exhibit with a special public event, “An Evening With Blue Note Records,” a Q&A with Blue Note President Don Was, hosted by the museum’s executive director, Bob Santelli, and the curator of the exhibit, Nwaka Onwusa, in the museum’s Clive Davis Theater. Tickets for the event are available for purchase on the GRAMMY Museum website: www.grammymuseum.org.
BLUE NOTE RECORDS 75TH ANNIVERSARY VINYL INITIATIVE
Blue Note will commence an extensive 100-album 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 Village Vanguard, Jason Moran Soundtrack To Human Motion, Terence Blanchard Flow, Medeski Martin & Wood Combustication, and Cassandra Wilson Traveling Miles. Click here for the full list of vinyl releases.
Blue Note President Don Was says, “Two years ago, we began remastering the jewels of the Blue Note catalog in hi-def resolutions of 96k and 192k. In order to develop a guiding artistic philosophy for this delicate endeavor, we donned our lab coats, ran dozens of sonic experiments and carefully referenced every generation of our reissues. Ultimately, we decided that our goal would be to protect the original intentions of the artists, producers and engineers who made these records and that, in the case of pre-digital-era albums, these intentions were best represented by the sound and feel of their first-edition vinyl releases. Working with a team of dedicated and groovy engineers, we found a sound that both captured the feel of the original records while maintaining the depth and transparency of the master tapes... the new remasters are really cool!
“While these new versions will become available in digital hi-def, CD and Mastered for iTunes formats, the allure of vinyl records is WAY too potent to ignore. This year, Blue Note - along with our friends at Universal Music Enterprises - is launching a major 75th Anniversary vinyl Initiative that is dedicated to the proposition that our catalog should be readily available at a low cost, featuring high quality pressings and authentic reproductions of Blue Note’s iconic packaging. Although this program begins in celebration of Blue Note’s 75th Anniversary, our catalog runs so deep that we will faithfully be reissuing five albums a month for many years to come!”
On March 11, Blue Note/UMe will release a new 2CD collection of 22 stellar tracks spanning the label’s history, Best of Blue Note ICON, including Sidney Bechet Quintet/“Summertime,” Thelonious Monk/“’Round About Midnight,” John Coltrane/“Blue Train,” Sonny Clark/“Cool Struttin’,” Lee Morgan/“Sidewinder,” Wayne Shorter/“Speak No Evil,” Norah Jones/“Cold Cold Heart,” and more.
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 brings new releases from Takuya Kuroda (Rising Son, February 18), Ambrose Akinmusire (the imagined savior is far easier to paint, March 11), Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band (Landmarks, April 29), 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). Additional new releases will soon be announced from Jason Moran, José James, Joe Lovano/Dave Douglas Soundprints Quintet, 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.
UPCOMING LIVE EVENTS
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. Additional live events will be announced throughout the year.
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 — recently released his biography Playing By Ear (written with author Dan Ouellette) through ArtistShare.
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.
~ Blue Note