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Blue Note 70/25

EMI’s Blue Note Records kicks off global celebration of 70th anniversary of label and 25th year since label relaunch under legendary music exec Bruce Lundvall

2009 anniversary events to highlight the music, imagery and legend of Blue Note via special digital and physical re-issues and releases, an all-star tribute band, book releases, concert events and festival honors around the world

In 2009, Blue Note Records—one of the world’s most legendary labels—will celebrate two milestones when it commemorates both the 70th anniversary of the label’s founding by Alfred Lion, as well as the 25th anniversary of its re-launch in 1984 under current President Bruce Lundvall, with a global celebration. In events befitting a label known for offering The Finest In Jazz Since 1939, the coming year will feature the music, imagery and legend of Blue Note with a range of multi-media offerings, including live concerts, special digital and physical re-issues and new releases, The Blue Note 7; an all-star tribute band of current jazz luminaries, book releases, festival honors, merchandise and much more.

Since its very first recording session on January 6, 1939, Blue Note has grown from a small independent label to become the world’s premiere and longest-running Jazz label. Today, Blue Note boasts a legendary catalog that includes such Jazz icons as 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 and Ornette Coleman. The label’s current Jazz roster keeps the tradition going, and includes many of today’s most important voices such as Patricia Barber, Terence Blanchard, Bill Charlap Robert Glasper, Lionel Loueke, Joe Lovano, Wynton Marsalis, Jason Moran, Aaron Parks, Dianne Reeves, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and Cassandra Wilson. And under Lundvall’s watch, Blue Note has tastefully broadened its music palette beyond jazz to include such acclaimed artists as Priscilla Ahn, Anita Baker, Al Green, Norah Jones, Amos Lee, Willie Nelson and the bird and the bee.

More offerings will be announced throughout the year, but following is a hint of what’s to come:

Events will kick off January 7 with the start of a worldwide tour by The Blue Note 7; an all-star tribute band comprising pianist and musical director Bill Charlap with trumpeter Nicholas Payton, alto saxophonist Steve Wilson, tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, guitarist Peter Bernstein, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash. The tour will hit 50 U.S. cities capped off with a week-long run at Birdland in New York April 14-19. A European tour is planned for October-November. On January 13, the septet will be releasing Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Records, an eight-song collection of re-envisioned Blue Note classics.

On January 27, Blue Note will officially kick off an all-out invasion of New York City’s clubs and music halls with two Blue Note legends—Lou Donaldson and Dr. Lonnie Smith—at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Other artists confirmed throughout the month of February include Anita Baker, Terence Blanchard, Bill Charlap, Robert Glasper, Norah Jones, Joe Lovano, Lionel Loueke, Wynton Marsalis, Jason Moran, Willie Nelson, Aaron Parks, Dianne Reeves, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Cassandra Wilson. Venues will include Birdland, the Blue Note Jazz Club, Iridium, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Jazz Standard, Town Hall, and the Village Vanguard.

As part of celebratory GRAMMY Week events, The Recording Academy will spotlight the jazz genre by dedicating their 2009 GRAMMY Salute To Jazz to Blue Note Records. The event—which will be held February 3 in Los Angeles—will feature a live performance by the Grammy Jazz Ensemble featuring Joe Lovano and other special guests, as well as a special presentation of The Recording Academy President’s Merit Award to Bruce Lundvall.

In addition to the continuation of Blue Note’s long-running RVG Series (for which the legendary recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder remasters his classic sessions) and Connoisseur Series (featuring lesser-known gems from the catalog), the label will also begin reissuing its core RVG Series titles as vinyl/CD combos. The label will also be making special digital initiatives available on www.bluenote.com and via digital retail partners around the world. In addition, during the Spring-Summer 2009 clothing company Friend or Foe will also present a line of their vintage-look, luxurious-feel t-shirts featuring classic Blue Note cover artwork and many other brand licensing efforts in multiple categories are in the works as Blue Note furthers its efforts of developing Blue Note as a premium lifestyle brand with licensing agent Fusion

Throughout 2009 several major Jazz festivals will be paying tribute to Blue Note Records. The 6th Annual Portland Jazz Festival in Oregon (February 13-22) will dedicate itself to a 360° celebration of the label—Somethin’ Else: Blue Note Records at 70—featuring performances from Blue Note’s past and present roster, as well as panel discussions about the label’s legacy with Bruce Lundvall, Michael Cuscuna, and various Jazz artists, writers and historians. In addition, the Blue Note Records Festival in France (March 30-April 11) will be showcasing talent from around the world. Other festivals paying tribute to Blue Note will include the JVC Jazz Festival in New York, Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island, Monterey Jazz Festival in California, and multiple festivals in Europe.

Acclaimed author Ashley Kahn (Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece, A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album, The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records) is penning Somethin’ Else: The Story of Blue Note Records and the Birth of Modern Jazz, the definitive label biography to be published by Viking in Fall 2009. Blue Note will also be releasing a companion 2-CD compilation that spans the label’s 70 years. A photography collection that presents Francis Wolff’s iconic images from Blue Note’s early period alongside Jimmy Katz’s documentation of the current era will be published by JazzPrezzo.


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, and Fusion. 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. The label 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.

Over the past 25 years, Blue Note has seen it’s share of commercial successes from Bobby McFerrin, Stanley Jordan, Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Us3, Medeski Martin & Wood, Norah Jones, Al Green, Anita Baker, Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis. The label has also remained a haven for the most creative voices in Jazz over the past quarter-century including Patricia Barber, Brian Blade, Terence Blanchard, Don Byron, Bill Charlap, Eliane Elias, Kurt Elling, Robert Glasper, Stefon Harris, Charlie Hunter, Lionel Loueke, Joe Lovano, Pat Martino, Jason Moran, Greg Osby, Aaron Parks, Michel Petrucciani, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, John Scofield, Jacky Terrasson, and Chucho Valdes.

Blue Note has also begun a series of newly-discovered long-lost archival gems such as Thelonious Monk Quartet With John Coltrane At Carnegie Hall, Charles Mingus Sextet With Eric Dolphy: Cornell 1964, and Horace Silver Live at Newport ’58.

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