Blue Note Records, a name synonymous with jazz, turns 70 this year.
Blue Note has come a long way since its first boogie-woogie piano recording of an after-hours session with Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis.
Started by German immigrant and jazz enthusiast Alfred Lion, and aided by photographer Francis Wolfe, the label became the most influential in jazz during the golden era of the fifties and sixties. At that time the label recorded such virtuosos as Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, Clifford Brown, John Coltrane, and the individuals that would eventually comprise the legendary Miles Davis quintet.
After seven decades, the label is still recording the best in jazz. Currently a septet led by pianist Bill Charlap is touring under the name the Blue Note Seven in celebration of Blue Note’s seventieth.
Check out this segment from NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” with Michael Cuscuna, jazz archivist and producer, Blue Note CEO Bruce Lundvall, and Bill Charlap. The various conversations recount the label’s history and bring it to the present with questions regarding more vocalists on the artist roster and its dabbling in hip-hop.
The interviewer also asks listeners to contribute their “Blue Note moments.” Mine was hearing Art Blakey’s “Moanin’” on a mix from my History of American Jazz class in college. I was listening to the cassette on the 15-minute walk to class and continuously replayed the track until I arrived, then after class I went to hunt down the record.
Just a few weeks ago I played it for a friend and may have passed that Blue Note moment on to someone else. Now I’ll pass it on to you. — SCOTT BYRNES