Join Pete Callard as he celebrates 75 years of jazz’s greatest-ever label – Blue Note Records, home to Thelonius Monk, John Coltrane, Grant Green and many, many others.
Pete Callard celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the highly influential Blue Note label.
THIS YEAR ses the 75th anniversary of arguably the most famous and iconic of all jazz labels – Blue Note Records. Founded by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis in 1939, Blue Note’s original focus on trad jazz and swing soon became a paragon of forward-thinking modern jazz – particularly the ‘hard-bop’ style. The label is also renowned for its stylish cover art, courtesy of artist Reid Miles and often featuring images by photographer Francis Wolff, which became as iconic as the music itself and proved hugely influential in the graphic-design world. Blue Note was bought by Liberty Records in 1965, which was in turn absorbed by United Artists Records in 1969. In 1979, EMI bought United Artists Records and phased out Blue Note, but it was relaunched in 1985 and continues to this day, now expanded to cover several labels as the Blue Note Label Group.
In tribute to Blue Note’s 75th anniversary, we’ve put together a Blue Note blues, featuring a chorus each on a jazz blues in F from some of the label’s biggest names – starting this month with Freddie Hubbard, Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter.
Trumpet great Freddie Hubbard (7 April, 1938 to 29 December, 2008) released nine albums for Blue Note in the 1960s as a leader, beginning with Open Sesame in 1960 and culminating with 1965’s live Night Of The Cookers. Hubbard also played on a further 28 Blue Note releases as a sideman including classic recordings by Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Dexter Gordon. He returned to the revived Blue Note in the 1980s for a further four releases.
Tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon (27 February, 1923 to 25 April, 1990) released a series of albums in the 1960s for the label, beginning with Doin’ Alright in 1961. He also featured on Herbie Hancock’s Takin’ Off. The final recordings under
Blue Note is renowned for its stylish cover art, which became as iconic as the music itself.
Gordon’s name, from the film Round Midnight in which he also starred, were released as The Other Side Of Round Midnight on Blue Note in 1985.
One of the greatest of all jazz musicians, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane (23 September, 1926 to 17 July, 1967) released only one album for Blue Note Records – 1957’s seminal Blue Train – but as it is generally considered among the most important and influential albums in jazz history, he demands inclusion in any list of Blue Note legends.
Wayne Shorter (born 25 August, 1933) is equally renowned as a composer and saxophonist. A key member of Miles Davis’ second great quintet, Shorter’s first recording for Blue Note was 1964’s Night Dreamer, and he went on to release 11 albums for the label between 1964 and 1970, also featuring on Blue Note recordings by Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan and McCoy Tyner, among others. In 2013, Shorter returned to Blue Note after more than 40 years, with the live album, Without A Net.
John Coltrane: Blue Note artist and all-time giant of jazz