85 Years of Blue Note Records

I’ve loved Blue Note Records for as long as I’ve loved jazz. Growing up as an aspiring jazz musician not much felt better than leaving Applause/Cheapo on Snelling in Saint Paul with a couple of those white jewel boxed Blue Note releases and heading home and finding out what they were all about. Early on I got Blue Note Presents The Three SoundsLou Donaldson’s Pretty Things, and Donald Byrd’s New Perspectives. These records and dozens more I either bought or borrowed were a joy to listen to, to read about, and were also a joy simply to hold. Blue Note has been a paragon of aesthetically pleasing material for the grand majority of their career and that commitment includes a lot more than just the music on offer. The design was always impeccable, especially in the years where Reid Miles held court over the releases. I even got a bit of a rush when I was holding Walter Smith III’s recent release which has a throwback Blue Note style throughout the design.

Through their 85 years, Blue Note has evolved and stayed relevant in the world of music. And like many great brands, Blue Note has done an impressive job of both honoring their legacy and pushing themselves in new directions. I can’t imagine telling the story of jazz without telling the story of how Blue Note had an oversize impact on the sound, style and substance of recorded jazz.

2024 marks 85 years since Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons headed into a rented studio and began Blue Note’s discography. From those beginnings to new releases from the likes of MeShell Ndegeocello, Joel Ross and Kendrick Scott that we are playing today, I am so grateful for Blue Note’s contribution to the world of music. This Saturday the Blue Note Quintet is in town to celebrate 85 years of Blue Note over at the Dakota. The lineup includes Gerald Clayton (p), Immanuel Wilkins (as), Joel Ross (vb), Matt Brewer (b) and Kendrick Scott (d). What a great way to begin their 85th year in existence.

For today’s happy hour at 4pm I want to celebrate your favorite Blue Note releases before Blue Note comes to the Dakota this weekend. Email your suggestions to sean@jazz88.fm or find us on social media! Long live Blue Note. And be sure to tune in because I’ll be giving away a pair of tickets to Saturday’s show during the Happy Hour.

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