On the theory that it is better late than never I decided it was time to have a programme that featured Blue Note records. Click the Mixcloud tab to hear a range of Blue Note sounds.
2014 saw the 75th anniversary of the iconic jazz label founded in the USA by two German immigrants, Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff. Between them they became involved in the making of records, many with that distinctive Blue Note hard bop sound. Alfred Lion was a record producer, Francis Wolff a wonderful jazz photographer and together with the recording techniques of Rudy van Gelder and the cool album designs of Reid Miles, they issued hundreds of outstanding records that are still at the heart of many jazz record collections.
The label continues today with the charismatic Don Was as president. He’s been responsible for the personal selection of an ongoing reissue of classic Blue Note albums on vinyl – and very good they sound too, especially as many of the original pressings are now beyond the reach of most buyers. Of course, much of the Blue Note catalogue is available on CD too.
I tried in my record selection to reflect a range of Blue Note music from the early 1960s – including Joe Henderson, Lou Donaldson, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. These are all timeless Blue Note tunes. The Donald Byrd selection involved production input from the Mizell Brothers, who brought for some too much of a disco/funk influence. Personally, I love it.
Jose James was chosen to reflect a contemporary sound. I could have chosen Gregory Porter or Robert Glasper. The Blue Note 7 were a group of distinguished musicians (including Ravi Coltrane and Nicholas Payton) assembled for the 70th anniversary of Blue Note to play tunes from the back catalogue. Female vocals were represented by a choice from the blues-influenced, pared down Blue Light ’til Dawn album from Cassandra Wilson and a track from the highly recommended Rachelle Ferrell album First Instrument on which her voice soars into the stratosphere. Rachelle Ferrell is also my video selection for the week (see below). She’s performing live with George Duke and special guest Patti Austin at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1997.
- Cassandra Wilson – You Don’t Know What Love Is from Blue Light ’til Dawn
- Joe Henderson – Escapade from Our Thing
- Jose James – Vanguard from No Beginning No End
- Lou Donaldson – Gravy Train from Gravy Train
- Rachelle Ferrell – With Every Breath I Take from First Instrument
- Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage from Maiden Voyage
- Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil from Speak No Evil
- The Blue Note 7 – The Outlaw from Mosaic
- Donald Byrd – Flight Time from Black Byrd