BLUE NOTE RECORDS 75th ANNIVERSARY: A 2014 YEAR IN REVIEW
December 17 2014
As we come to the end of the Blue Note Records 75th Anniversary celebrations, we wanted to take a moment to reflect back upon this incredible year. From iTunes to indie record stores. From vinyl to internet radio. From Washington DC to Paris. From 1939 to 2014, the legacy of Blue Note Records was celebrated far and wide this year. Most of all we want to say a big thank you to you, the fans, who are every bit as important as the artists in keeping Blue Note alive and vibrant as we head into 2015 with much more great music to come!
CONCERTS & FESTIVALS
The celebrations began on January 6, 2014, 75 years to the day that Alfred Lion assembled the very first Blue Note recording session with boogie woogie pianists Albert Ammons & Meade “Lux” Lewis. On January 8, pianists Jason Moran & Robert Glasper paid tribute to that first session with an unforgettable set of piano duets at Town Hall as part of NYC Winter Jazzfest. Throughout the year festivals across the world including NYC’s Central Park Summerstage, Monterey Jazz Festival, Portland’s PDX Jazz, EFG London Jazz Festival, and the dedicated Blue Note Festival in Paris celebrated our 75th birthday.
GRAMMY MUSEUM & NOMINATIONS
In March, the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles opened Blue Note Records: The Finest In Jazz, a one-of-a-kind exhibit that remains open through January 11, 2015, offering visitors an in-depth look at the label through music, album artwork, photographs, artifacts, interviews and more. This month, Blue Note artists including Bobby Hutcherson, Brian Blade, Jason Moran, Robert Glasper, Annie Lennox, Rosanne Cash & Ryan Adams received an amazing 12 GRAMMY nominations across 5 different genre fields.
100 ESSENTIAL VINYL REISSUES
In March, we also kicked of an extensive Blue Note 75th Anniversary Vinyl Reissue Series that will release 100 essential albums over 2 years. The releases continue monthly with 5 new titles being reissued on December 23 from Andrew Hill, Grant Green, Jackie McLean, Tony Williams & Bobby Hutcherson. We also began a Blue Note Authorized Dealer program with Record Store Day that provides participating stores with exclusive releases included 10” vinyl reissues from Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis & others. Other catalog releases included Blue Note Select CD box sets from Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, John Coltrane & Thelonious Monk.
“BLUE NOTE AT 75” AT THE KENNEDY CENTER
In May, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC held a week-long celebration “Blue Note at 75” which included film screenings, photo exhibits, lectures and concerts that culminated with Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran and Blue Note President Don Was hosting an all-star concert that brought together artists from the label's past and present including Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Hutcherson, Lou Donaldson, Lonnie Smith, Norah Jones, Dianne Reeves, Joe Lovano, Brian Blade, Terence Blanchard, Robert Glasper, Lionel Loueke & more. The historic event was webcast live by NPR Music.
May also saw the global launch of iTunes.com/BlueNote, an iTunes destination dedicated to serving as the premiere source for Blue Note music with exclusive offerings and the goal of making every Blue Note title available in one place. iTunes Radio also featured one of the first label branded radio stations with Blue Note Radio, a station that streams tracks spanning all 75 years of The Finest In Jazz. iTunes.com/BlueNote also features a free podcast called Now Hear This! which spotlights a different Blue Note artists each month.
“BLUE NOTE 75” iPAD APP
In July, we launched the Blue Note 75 app for iPad in partnership with the digital music agency playDEF music. The groundbreaking app allows users to dive deep into our 75 year catalog with editorial features and a scrolling timeline of albums that can be sampled, purchased directly in app via iTunes, or streamed by premium subscribers of Spotify, Rdio and Deezer. Take a video tour.
SONOS IS BORN IN BLUE
In September, we launched a partnership with Sonos, the innovator in wireless home audio products that let you stream music to any room in your home in high fidelity sound. Sonos introduced a Blue Note Channel on their system powered by TuneIn Radio featuring two dedicated Blue Note stations: Blue Note 101 which takes the listener on a tour of the greatest Blue Note tracks spanning 1939 to 2014, and Born In Blue which focuses on the funky gems of the Blue Note catalog that have been sampled by hip hop stars from A Tribe Called Quest to De La Soul to J Dilla to the Beastie Boys.
ASTELL&KERN BRANDED PLAYER
In October, we partnered with the high-end audiophile brand Astell&Kern on the limited edition Blue Note 75th Anniversary Box Set that presented 75 essential Blue Note albums newly remastered from analog to the hi-res MQS digital format (24bit/192kHz) on a Blue Note branded Astell&Kern AK240 high-resolution portable audio player. The lavish collection also included a special book filled with original album art, as well as Richard Havers’ Uncompromising Expression.
November saw the release of Uncompromising Expression, the first official illustrated history of Blue Note Records. The 400-page hardcover book was authored by Richard Havers and tells the 75 year story of the label. We also released a 5-CD companion box set curated by Havers that opens with the label’s very first artist, boogie woogie pianist Meade “Lux” Lewis, and closes 75 years later with the progressive sounds of bassist Derrick Hodge, also featuring greats such as Art Blakey, Donald Byrd, John Coltrane, Norah Jones, Thelonious Monk, and Cassandra Wilson along the way.
OUR POINT OF VIEW
This Fall, the supergroup Our Point of View celebrated the vitality of Blue Note by looking ahead and assembling the leading young artists on our roster who steadfastly continue to move Jazz forward. Featuring keyboardist Robert Glasper, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland, guitarist Lionel Loueke, bassist Derrick Hodge, and drummer Kendrick Scott, the band’s repertoire drew from each of these artists’ own remarkable catalogs as well new spins on Blue Note classics.
Throughout the entire year Blue Note continued to release incredible new music from our unparalleled roster of artists, many of which are turning up now on Best of 2014 lists from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, NPR Music, Rolling Stone & more.
Ambrose Akinmusire the imagined savior is far easier to paint
Bobby Hutcherson/David Sanborn/Joey DeFrancesco Enjoy The View
Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band Landmarks
Jason Moran All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller
Otis Brown III The Thought Of You
Takuya Kuroda Rising Son
José James While You Were Sleeping
Annie Lennox Nostalgia
Rosanne Cash The River & The Thread
Kandace Springs Kandace Springs EP
Puss ‘N Boots No Fools, No Fun
Ryan Adams Ryan Adams
Benmont Tench You Should Be So Lucky
R.I.P. HORACE SILVER
Lastly, we honor the great pianist and composer Horace Silver who passed away on June 18, 2014 at the age of 85. Horace’s contribution to the Blue Note legacy is immeasurable. He was a pioneer of hard bop and original founder of The Jazz Messengers who tempered bebop with elements of gospel, blues and R&B to create a soulful modern jazz concept that came to identify the “Blue Note Sound.” Horace recorded his first album for Blue Note in 1952 went on to record on over 40 Blue Note sessions as a leader and sideman over the course of 27 years. Along the way he created countless classics including “Doodlin’” “Senor Blues” “Sister Sadie” “Song for My Father” and many others. Rest in “Peace” Mr. Silver!
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