The Info List - Blue Note Records

Blue Note Records
Blue Note Records
is an American jazz record label, owned by Universal Music Group and currently operated in conjunction with Decca Records. Established in 1939 by Alfred Lion
Alfred Lion
and Max Margulis, it derives its name from the characteristic "blue notes" of jazz and the blues. Originally dedicated to recording traditional jazz and small group swing, from 1947 the label began to switch its attention to modern jazz. While the original company did not itself record many of the pioneers of bebop, significant exceptions are Thelonious Monk, Fats Navarro and Bud Powell.


1 History

1.1 Early years 1.2 Lion and Wolff embrace bebop 1.3 Hard bop and beyond 1.4 The avant-garde 1.5 Cover art 1.6 Lion and Wolff retire 1.7 Revival and ownership history

2 Legacy 3 Discography 4 Subsidiaries 5 Notes 6 References 7 External links

History[edit] Historically, Blue Note has principally been associated with the "hard bop" style of jazz (mixing bebop with other forms of music including soul, blues, rhythm and blues and gospel), but also recorded essential albums in the avant-garde and free styles of jazz. Horace Silver, Jimmy Smith, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Art Blakey, Grant Green, Hank Mobley, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson, and Jackie McLean
Jackie McLean
were among the label's leading artists. During its heyday, the 1950s and 1960s, the photography and graphic art of Reid Miles created a series of iconic album covers, often incorporating session photos by Wolff, which added to Blue Note's artistic reputation. Early years[edit] Lion first heard jazz as a young boy in Berlin. He settled in New York City in 1937, and shortly after the first From Spirituals to Swing concert, recorded pianists Albert Ammons
Albert Ammons
and Meade Lux Lewis
Meade Lux Lewis
in 1939 during a one-day session in a rented studio. The Blue Note label initially consisted of Lion and Max Margulis, a communist writer who funded the project. The label's first releases were traditional "hot" jazz and boogie woogie, and the label's first hit was a performance of "Summertime" by soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet, which Bechet had been unable to record for the established companies. Musicians were supplied with alcoholic refreshments, and recorded in the early hours of the morning after their evening's work in clubs and bars had finished. The label soon became known for treating musicians uncommonly well—setting up recording sessions at congenial times, and allowing the artists to be involved in all aspects of the record's production. Francis Wolff, a professional photographer, emigrated to the US at the end of 1939 and soon joined forces with Lion, a childhood friend. In 1941, Lion was drafted into the army for two years. Milt Gabler
Milt Gabler
at the Commodore Music Store offered storage facilities and helped keep the catalog in print, with Wolff working for him. By late 1943, the label was back in business recording musicians and supplying records to the armed forces. Willing to record artists that most other labels would consider to be uncommercial, in December 1943 the label initiated more sessions with artists such as pianist Art Hodes, trumpeter Sidney DeParis, clarinetist Edmond Hall, and Harlem stride pianist James P. Johnson, who was returning to a high degree of musical activity after having largely recovered from a stroke suffered in 1940. Lion and Wolff embrace bebop[edit] Towards the end of the war, saxophonist Ike Quebec
Ike Quebec
was among those who recorded for the label. Quebec would act as a talent scout for the label until his death in 1963. Although stylistically belonging to a previous generation, he could appreciate the new bebop style of jazz, the creation of which is usually attributed to Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
and Charlie Parker. In 1947, pianist Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
recorded his first sessions as a leader for the label, which were also the Blue Note debut of drummer Art Blakey, who also recorded his first session as leader for the label at this time. Lion recorded several Monk sessions before he began to release the resulting sides. Monk's recordings for Blue Note between 1947 and 1952 did not sell well for some years, but have since come to be regarded as the most important of his career. Other bebop or modernist musicians who recorded for Blue Note during the late forties and early fifties were pianist Tadd Dameron, trumpeters Fats Navarro and Howard McGhee, saxophonist James Moody and pianist Bud Powell. The sessions by Powell are commonly ranked among his best. J. J. Johnson and trumpeter Miles Davis
Miles Davis
both recorded several sessions for Blue Note between 1952 and 1954, but by then the musicians who had created bebop were starting to explore other styles. The recording of musicians performing in an earlier jazz idiom, such as Sidney Bechet
Sidney Bechet
and clarinettist George Lewis, continued into the 1950s. Hard bop and beyond[edit] In 1951, Blue Note issued their first vinyl 10" releases. The label was soon recording emerging talent such as Horace Silver
Horace Silver
(who would stay with Blue Note for a quarter of a century) and Clifford Brown. Meanwhile, Milt Jackson
Milt Jackson
(as the leader of what became the Modern Jazz Quartet) and the Jazz
Messengers (originally organised as a cooperative, but soon to become Art Blakey's group) recorded for Blue Note. The Milt Jackson
Milt Jackson
Quartet session was a one-off, but Blakey's various groups recorded for the label extensively, if intermittently, for the next decade. Rudy Van Gelder
Rudy Van Gelder
recorded most Blue Note releases from 1953, after Lion and Van Gelder's mutual friend, saxophonist and composer Gil Melle, introduced them. A difference between Blue Note and other independent labels (for example Prestige Records, who also employed Van Gelder) was that musicians were paid for rehearsal time prior to the recording session: this helped ensure a better end result on the record. Producer Bob Porter of Prestige Records
Prestige Records
once said that "The difference between Blue Note and Prestige is two days' rehearsal.[1] When the recording industry switched to 12" LP in the mid-1950s, Blue Note was in difficulties. Their catalog on the now outmoded 10" LP now had to be recreated on the newer format. Lion contemplated selling out to Atlantic at this time, an option which was not acted upon. A musician who was to become one of the label's best sellers was discovered. Jimmy Smith, the Hammond organist was signed in 1956, and performed on the label's first 12" LP album of new recordings. The mid to late 1950s saw debut recordings for Blue Note by (among others) Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Herbie Nichols, Sonny Clark, Kenny Dorham, Kenny Burrell, Jackie McLean, Donald Byrd
Donald Byrd
and Lou Donaldson. Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
recorded for the label in 1956 and 1957 and Bud Powell briefly returned. John Coltrane's Blue Train, and Cannonball Adderley's Somethin' Else (featuring Miles Davis
Miles Davis
in one of his last supporting roles) were guest appearances on the label. Blue Note was by then recording a mixture of established acts (Rollins, Adderley) and artists who in some cases had recorded before, but often produced performances for the label which by far exceeded earlier recordings in quality (Blue Train is often considered to be the first significant recording by Coltrane as a leader). Horace Silver
Horace Silver
and Art Blakey
Art Blakey
and the Jazz
Messengers continued to release a series of artistically and commercially successful recordings. The early 1960s saw Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
join the label. Gordon was a saxophonist from the bebop era who had spent several years in prison for narcotic offences, and he made several albums for Blue Note over a five-year period, including several at the beginning of his sojourn in Europe. Gordon also appeared on the debut album by Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
- by the mid 1960s, all four of the younger members of the Miles Davis quintet (Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter
Ron Carter
and Tony Williams) were recording for the label, and Hancock and Shorter in particular produced a succession of superb albums in a mix of styles. Carter did not actually record under his own name until the label's revival in the 1980s, but played double bass on many other musicians' sessions. Many of these also included Freddie Hubbard, a trumpeter who also recorded for the label as a leader. One of the features of the label during this period was a "family" of musicians (Hubbard, Hancock, Carter, Grant Green, Joe Henderson, Kenny Dorham, Lee Morgan, Blue Mitchell, Hank Mobley
Hank Mobley
and many others) who would record as sidemen on each other's albums without necessarily being part of the leader's working group. The early 1960s also saw three Blue Note recordings by pianist/composer Freddie Redd, one of which, The Connection, used music written for the play by Jack Gelber and its film version. In 1963, Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
scored a significant hit with the title track of The Sidewinder
The Sidewinder
album, and Horace Silver
Horace Silver
did the same the following year with Song for My Father. As a result, Lion was under pressure by independent distributors to come up with similar successes, with the result that many Blue Note albums of this era start with a catchy tune intended for heavy airplay in the United States. At the end of the 1950s, and in the early 1960s, Blue Note headquarters were located in New York City, at West 61st Street,[2][3][4] and at 47 W 63rd Street.[5] The avant-garde[edit] Although many of the acts on Blue Note were recording jazz for a wide audience, the label also documented some of the emerging avant-garde and free jazz players. Andrew Hill, a highly individual pianist, made many albums for the label, one featuring multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy. Dolphy's Out to Lunch! (featuring a celebrated cover by Reid Miles) is perhaps his best-known album. Saxophonist Ornette Coleman released two albums recorded with a trio in a Stockholm club, and three studio albums (including The Empty Foxhole, with his then ten-year-old son Denardo Coleman
Denardo Coleman
on drums). Pianist Cecil Taylor recorded a brace of albums for Blue Note, as did trombonist Grachan Moncur III, and saxophonist Sam Rivers, drummer Tony Williams, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson
Bobby Hutcherson
and organist Larry Young also recorded albums which diverged from the "hard bop" style usually associated with the label. Saxophonist Jackie McLean, a stalwart of the label's hard bop output since the late 1950s, also crossed over into the avant-garde in the early 1960s, whose notable avant-garde albums included One Step Beyond, Destination Out and on (as a side man) trombonist Grachan Moncur III' s "Evolution" Though these avant-garde records did not sell as well as some other Blue Note releases, Lion thought it was important to document new developments in jazz. Cover art[edit] In 1956, Blue Note employed Reid Miles, an artist who worked for Esquire magazine. The cover art produced by Miles, often featuring Wolff's photographs of musicians in the studio, was as influential in the world of graphic design as the music within would be in the world of jazz.[6] Under Miles, Blue Note was known for their striking and unusual album cover designs. Miles' graphical design was distinguished by its tinted black and white photographs, creative use of sans-serif typefaces, and restricted color palette (often black and white with a single color), and frequent use of solid rectangular bands of color or white, influenced by the Bauhaus
school of design.[7] Though Miles' work is closely associated with Blue Note and has earned iconic status and frequent homage, Miles was only a casual jazz fan, according to Richard Cook;[8] Blue Note gave him several copies of each of the many dozens of albums he designed, but Miles gave most to friends or sold them to second-hand record shops. A few mid-fifties album covers featured drawings by a then-unknown Andy Warhol.[9] Some of his most celebrated designs adorned the sleeves of albums such as Midnight Blue, Out to Lunch!, Unity, Somethin' Else, Let Freedom Ring, Hub-Tones, No Room for Squares, Cool Struttin', and The Sidewinder. Lion and Wolff retire[edit] Blue Note was acquired by Liberty Records in 1965 and Lion, who had difficulties working within a larger organization, retired in 1967. Reid Miles' association with the label ended around this time. For a few years most albums were produced by Wolff or pianist Duke Pearson, who had filled Ike Quebec's role in 1963, but Wolff died in 1971 and Pearson left in the same year. George Butler was now responsible for the label, but despite some good albums, the commercial viability of jazz was in question, and more borderline and outright commercial records were made (often by artists who had previously recorded "straight" jazz for the label—Bobby Hutcherson, Lou Donaldson, Donald Byrd, Grant Green, Horace Silver). At the end of the 1960s, the company headquarters were moved to 1776 Broadway.[10] Revival and ownership history[edit] In 1979, EMI
purchased United Artists Records, which had absorbed Liberty Records in 1969, and phased out the Blue Note label, which lay dormant until 1985, when it was relaunched as part of EMI
Manhattan Records, both for re-issues and new recordings for which Bruce Lundvall was appointed. Some artists previously associated with Blue Note, such as McCoy Tyner, made new recordings, while younger musicians such as Bennie Wallace, Joe Lovano, John Scofield, Greg Osby, Jason Moran and arranger–composer Bob Belden have established notable reputations through their Blue Note albums. The label has also found great commercial success with the vocalist Norah Jones, and released new albums by established artists on the fringes of jazz such as Van Morrison, Al Green, Anita Baker
Anita Baker
and newcomer Amos Lee, sometimes referred to as the "male Norah Jones". Two of the leading trumpeters of the 1980s Jazz
Resurgence, Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
and Terence Blanchard signed with the label in 2003. Hip-hop producer Madlib recorded Shades of Blue in 2003 as a tribute to Blue Note with samples earlier records on the label. Blue Note has pursued an active reissue program since the mid-1980s revival. and Michael Cuscuna has worked as freelance advisor and reissue producer. Some of the original Blue Note's output has appeared in CD box sets issued by Mosaic Records
Mosaic Records
(also involving Cuscuna). Blue Note Records became the flagship jazz label for Capitol Jazz, and was the parent label for the Capitol Jazz, Pacific Jazz, Roulette and other labels within Capitol's holdings which had possessed a jazz line. The "RVG series", Rudy Van Gelder
Rudy Van Gelder
remastering his own recordings from decades earlier began around 1998. In 2006, EMI
expanded Blue Note to create the Blue Note Label Group by moving its Narada group of labels to New York to join with Blue Note, centralizing EMI's approach to music for the adult market segment. The labels newly under the Blue Note umbrella are Angel Records, EMI Classics and Virgin Classics (classical music), Narada Productions (contemporary jazz and world-influenced music, including exclusively licensed sub-label Real World Records), Back Porch Records (folk and Americana), Higher Octave Records (smooth jazz and New-age music), and Mosaic Records
Mosaic Records
(devoted exclusively to reissuing jazz recordings in limited-edition boxed sets).[11][12] As of June 2007, Bruce Lundvall, founder of Manhattan Records, as President/CEO of the Blue Note Label Group, was at the time reporting directly to Eric Nicoli, then Chief Executive Officer of EMI
Group.[13] In 2008, the Blue Note 7, a jazz septet, was formed in honor of the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records. The group recorded an album in 2008, entitled Mosaic, which was released in 2009 on Blue Note Records/EMI, and toured the United States
United States
in promotion of the album from January until April 2009.[14] The group consists of Peter Bernstein (guitar), Bill Charlap
Bill Charlap
(piano), Ravi Coltrane
Ravi Coltrane
(tenor saxophone), Lewis Nash
Lewis Nash
(drums), Nicholas Payton
Nicholas Payton
(trumpet), Peter Washington (bass), and Steve Wilson (alto saxophone, flute). The group plays the music of Blue Note Records
Blue Note Records
from various artists, with arrangements by members of the band and Renee Rosnes. Following the acquisition of EMI
by Universal, Don Was
Don Was
became President of Blue Note in January 2012, after an appointment as CEO a few months earlier, in succession to Bruce Lundvall. Lundvall, who stood down in 2010, became Chairman Emeritus[15] In May 2013, Blue Note Records
Blue Note Records
partnered with ArtistShare
to form a label called "Blue Note/ArtistShare". The Blue Note/ArtistShare partnership was forged by ArtistShare
founder Brian Camelio, Bruce Lundvall, and Don Was.[16] After Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group
took over EMI, Decca Records
Decca Records
took over distribution of Blue Note.[17] Legacy[edit] There has been much sampling of classic Blue Note tracks by both hip hop artists and for mashing projects. In 1993, the group Us3 designed the entirety of its debut album upon samples from classic Blue Note records. In 2003, hip-hop producer Madlib
released Shades of Blue: Madlib
Invades Blue Note, a collection of his remixes and interpretations of Blue Note music. Pete Rock, J Dilla, and DJ Spinna have likewise been involved in similar projects. In 2004, Burning Vision Entertainment created the video for Helicopter Girl's "Angel City",[18] using the art from numerous Blue Note LP sleeves to startling effect. In 2008, hip-hop producer Questlove
of The Roots compiled Droppin' Science: Greatest Samples from the Blue Note Lab, a collection of original Blue Note recordings sampled by modern-day hip-hop artists such as Dr. Dre
Dr. Dre
and A Tribe Called Quest. Discography[edit] Main article: Blue Note Records
Blue Note Records
discography Subsidiaries[edit]

Angel Records Manhattan Records Narada Productions


^ [1] Archived June 17, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. ^ "Google Maps". Maps.google.com. Retrieved 2015-05-20.  ^ Liner notes to Tender Feelin's
Tender Feelin's
by Leonard Feather ^ Liner notes to Feelin' Good. ^ LP liner notes to Blues
in Trinity. ^ "Creative Bloq". Computerarts.co.uk. 2013-09-06. Retrieved 2015-05-20.  ^ Martin Gayford "Blue Note Records: from Ammons to Monk, it was home to the jazz idealists", Daily Telegraph, 15 July 2009. ^ Cook, Richard, Blue Note Records: The Biography, Boston: Justin Charles, 2003; ISBN 1-932112-10-3 ^ [2] Archived November 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Original LP liner notes to Open House ^ "Label News: EMI
Combines Blue Note & Narada. Sanctuary Ups Cahill To GM - hypebot". Hypebot.typepad.com. 2006-07-19. Retrieved 2015-05-20.  ^ [3] Archived February 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. ^ [4] Archived February 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. ^ " The Blue Note 7
The Blue Note 7
Celebrates 70 Years of Blue Note Records
Blue Note Records
With Album Release and 50+ City North American Tour". Allaboutjazz.com. Retrieved 2015-05-20.  ^ Chinen, Nate (May 2, 2012). "Exuberance Is Just One of His Skills". The New York Times. Retrieved May 4, 2012.  ^ Chinen, Nate (May 8, 2013). "Blue Note to Partner With ArtistShare". The New York Times. Retrieved October 26, 2013.  ^ "Decca Records". Decca.com. Retrieved 2017-07-21.  ^ [5] Archived July 17, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.


Cook, Richard. Blue Note Records: A Biography. ISBN 1-932112-10-3. Cuscuna, Michael & Ruppli, Michel. The Blue Note Label: A Discography. ISBN 0-313-31826-3 [2nd ed 2001] Marsh, Graham & Callingham, Glyn. Blue Note: Album Cover Art. ISBN 0-8118-3688-6. Marsh, Graham. Blue Note 2: the Album Cover Art: The Finest in Jazz Since 1939. ISBN 0-8118-1853-5 [US edition] Wolff, Francis, et al. Blue Note Jazz
Photography of Francis Wolff. ISBN 0-7893-0493-7.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Blue Note Records.

Blue Note at 60 Blue Note Official Site Blue Note Discography A video interview with Bruce Lundvall
Bruce Lundvall
on Blue Note Records NAMM Oral History Interview with Dr. Ruth Lion October 20, 2003

Business data for Blue Note Records: Google Finance Yahoo! Finance

v t e


History List of owned assets


Vincent Bolloré Arnaud de Puyfontaine Pierre Rodocanachi

Universal Music Group

Universal Music Publishing Group Decca Gold

Decca Records Deutsche Grammophon

Island Records

Mercury Records

Roc Nation

StarRoc Takeover Roc Nation

Republic Records

Cash Money Records Big Machine Label Group

Universal Music Enterprises

Hip-O Records

Def Jam Recordings Show Dog-Universal Music Vevo

Capitol Christian Music Group

Gospel Sparrow Records Tooth & Nail Records

Capitol Music Group

Astralwerks Apple Records Blue Note Records Capitol Records Caroline Distribution Harvest Records mau5trap Motown Priority Records Virgin Records

Interscope Geffen A&M Records

A&M Records A&M Octone Records DGC Records Geffen Records Interscope Records

UM Latin Entertainment

Capitol Latin Disa Records Fonovisa Records Machete Music

UMG Nashville

MCA Nashville Mercury Nashville Records Lost Highway Records Capitol Records
Capitol Records
Nashville EMI
Records Nashville


Capitol UK Decca Records Island UK Polydor Records Virgin EMI

Verve Records

GRP Records Impulse! Records Verve Forecast Records

Film/TV units

Eagle Rock Entertainment PolyGram
Entertainment Universal Music TV


Canal+ Canalsat

Afrique Calédonie Caraïbes

D8 StudioCanal


Other assets

(90%) Gameloft
(96.9%) Telecom Italia
Telecom Italia
(24.6%) Mediaset
(28.80%) Havas