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The Kennedy Center Announces "Blue Note at 75" Celebrations May 3-11

The Kennedy Center Announces

March 14 2014

From May 3 to May 11, 2014, the Kennedy Center presents Blue Note at 75, marking the Diamond Anniversary of Blue Note Records. Hosted by Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor for Jazz and Blue Note Records artist, Jason Moran, the salute features performances by some of the iconic label’s most notable musicians from past and present.  In addition to events at the Kennedy Center, collaborative events at other locations in Washington, D.C.—at the Goethe-Institut, the Library of Congress, and the German Historical Institute—include related lectures, film screenings, a photo exhibit, concerts, and more.  In cooperation with the Los Angeles-based GRAMMY® Museum, a special exhibit in the Kennedy Center Hall of States displays examples of Blue Note album cover art, one of the label’s non-musical hallmarks.  ARTSEDGE, the Kennedy Center’s digital learning program, holds a national online album cover art challenge for youth in four cities, in association with the Digital Youth Network.

Says Jason Moran, “Blue Note is the only jazz label that has been in existence this long – that exists today in its original form. It’s an icon of sound, style and design. It transcends time, and will always remain cool.  It is jazz recording history.”

Ticketed, main stage Kennedy Center events feature GRAMMY Award®-winning jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard and his quintet; GRAMMY®-winning hip-hop jazz pianist Robert Glasper and his Robert Glasper Experiment; a Listening Party with Jason Moran and Terence Blanchard discussing their all-time top Blue Note albums and tracks; and a signature closing night concert bringing together an all-star lineup of artists, including  NEA Jazz Masters Lou Donaldson, Bobby Hutcherson, Wayne Shorter, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and McCoy Tyner. 

Additionally, renowned artists take to the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage to perform daily free concerts including – among others – Marlena Shaw, Fabian Almazan, Lionel Loueke, and Derrick Hodge. An additional performance of classic Blue Note repertoire will be given by members of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the big band orchestra in residence at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Highlights of other events throughout Washington, D.C. include a Francis Wolff photography exhibit at the Goethe-Institut, showcasing original photographs from iconic Blue Note album covers; a free panel discussion on the 75-year history of Blue Note, hosted by the Library of Congress; and a concert-lecture at the German Historical Institute. For updates on all events, please visit


For 75 years, the Blue Note Records catalog has traced the entire history of jazz from Hot Jazz, Boogie Woogie and Swing; through Bebop, Hard Bop and Post Bop; to Soul Jazz, Avant-Garde, Fusion, and onward.  The label’s beginnings start with childhood friends Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, who, as adults, separately left their native Germany and settled in New York City in the 1930s.  Once in the U.S., Lion became an original founder of Blue Note Records (est. 1939), with Wolff joining the company soon thereafter.  With Lion and Wolff at the helm over the next few decades – supported by the talents of many others including the likes of commercial designer Reid Miles and recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder – Blue Note Records became noted for its consistently transcendent music, elegant and insightful photography, sterling sound quality, and strikingly original cover artwork. 

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, who broadened the label’s horizon to include quality music in other genres as well as jazz.  In 2011, veteran record producer and musician Don Was joined Blue Note, eventually becoming President, with Lundvall continuing to provide guidance as Chairman Emeritus.  

Artists from the 75-year history of the label are too numerous to fully list, but include household names from the jazz and non-jazz realms, including:  Cannonball Adderley, Ambrose Akinmusire, Anita Baker, Art Blakey, Terence Blanchard, Ornette Coleman, Donald Byrd, John Coltrane, Ravi Coltrane, Elvis Costello, Miles Davis, Lou Donaldson, Robert Glasper, Al Green, Herbie Hancock, Stefon Harris, Joe Henderson, Andrew Hill, Freddie Hubbard, Norah Jones, Lionel Loueke, Joe Lovano, Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis, Jason Moran, Thelonious Monk, Willie Nelson, Greg Osby, Bud Powell, Gregory Porter, Dianne Reeves, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, Jimmy Smith,  Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jacky Terrasson, McCoy Tyner, Chucho Valdés, and Cassandra Wilson.



Terence Blanchard Quintet

May 9, Terrace Theater

7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., $38

Terence Blanchard, trumpeter and bandleader; Fabian Almazan, pianist;

Kendrick Scott, percussionist; Joshua Crumbly, bassist; Lionel Loueke, guitarist

A riveting live performer, bandleader, and composer, GRAMMY Award®-winning jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard and his Quintet return to the Kennedy Center for the first time since 2011.  As a prominent member of the current Blue Note roster, Blanchard has released four albums including the GRAMMY®-nominated Magnetic released last year, and has also worked extensively as a film composer for films by such directors as Spike Lee and George Lucas, among many others.  Of Blanchard, NPR says he “combines a love for the music of his native New Orleans with modern hard bop and a spirit of innovation.” 


Listening Party: Blue Note at 75

May 10, African Lounge

4 p.m., $12

Pianist Jason Moran and trumpeter Terence Blanchard – both current members of the Blue Note Records roster – present their all-time top albums and tracks from the label’s iconic and prolific 75-year catalog.


Robert Glasper Experiment

May 10, Crossroads Club

8 p.m. and 10 p.m., $30

Robert Glasper, pianist and bandleader; Derrick Hodge, bassist;

Benjamin Casey, vocoderist and saxophonist; Mark Colenburg, percussionist

GRAMMY®-winning hip-hop jazz pianist Robert Glasper brings his spontaneous spirit of adventure and experimentation to the Kennedy Center Crossroads Club. A recording artist with Blue Note Records since 2005, Glasper has collaborated with musicians ranging from Erykah Badu to Common on his recent breakout albums Black Radio and Black Radio 2. Drawing from jazz, hip-hop, R&B, and rock, Glasper and his band boldly stake out new musical territory while transcending any notion of genre. Now in its second season, the Crossroads Club is a performance space housed in the Center’s Atrium, featuring expansive standing room (only), a dance floor, and high-top tables, with drinks available for purchase.


Blue Note at 75: The Concert

May 11, Concert Hall

7 p.m., $20-$65

As the culminating event of the Kennedy Center celebration of Blue Note at 75, marking of the Diamond Anniversary of Blue Note Records, artists from the iconic label’s present and past roster perform, including: vocalists Norah Jones and Dianne Reeves; saxophonist Joe Lovano; pianist and Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor for Jazz Jason Moran; saxophonist and NEA Jazz Master Wayne Shorter and his Quartet of pianist Danilo Pérez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade; plus four other NEA Jazz Masters: vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson; pianist McCoy Tyner; organist Dr. Lonnie Smith; alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson; and other surprise guests.





Blue Note at 75 GRAMMY® Museum Exhibit

May 7-11, Hall of States

10 a.m. – 12 a.m., FREE

The Los Angeles-based GRAMMY® Museum presents a special exhibit in the Kennedy Center Hall of States of Blue Note Records album covers.  The exhibit highlights the art and style of designer Reid Miles and photographer Frank Wolff, who greatly influenced the label’s notable visual aesthetic.  Included in the exhibit are works by winners of The Blue Note Experiment, the challenge for youth from the U.S., who designed new album covers inspired by the label.


Marlena Shaw

May 4, Millennium Stage

6 p.m., FREE

One of the first female vocalists signed by Blue Note Records, Marlena Shaw has never strayed far from her jazz roots. A former singer with the Count Basie Orchestra, she has the ability to highlight the dramatic possibilities of the simplest lyric, while her sassy, humorous onstage presence is as entertaining as her singing. 


Members of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra

May 6, Millennium Stage

6 p.m., FREE

Members of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra—the big band orchestra in residence at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History—perform repertoire from the storied 75-year history of the iconic label, Blue Note Records.


Fabian Almazan, Rhizome

May 7, Millennium Stage

6 p.m., FREE

Fabian Almazan, pianist and bandleader; Linda Oh, bassist; Henry Cole, drummer;

Megan Gould, violinist; Tomoko Omura, violinist; Karen Waltuch, violist; Noah Hoffield, cellist

Cuban-born American pianist Fabian Almazan performs selections from his newest album Rhizome (released March 2014 on Blue Note/ArtistShare), complete with string quartet and jazz trio.  “Fabian pushes the envelope in ways that excite people,” says trumpeter Terence Blanchard.  “He’s someone who takes all of his experiences around the world in different forms of music, and uses them to create something special.”


Lionel Loueke

May 8, Millennium Stage

6 p.m., FREE

Lionel Loueke, guitarist, vocalist and bandleader; Massimo Biolcati, bassist;

Ferenc Nemeth, drummer


Benin-native guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke – a current Blue Note Records artist whose most recent release Heritage was produced by labelmate Robert Glasper– has performed and recorded as a leader and sideman with luminaries as varied as Herbie Hancock and Angelique Kidjo, Cassandra Wilson, and Santana.  Loueke stands out in a crowded field of musicians with his trademark sound which “fuses traditional African music with modern jazz harmonies, unique vocal inflections, and complex time signatures” (NPR).


Derrick Hodge

May 10, Millennium Stage

6 p.m., FREE

Derrick Hodge, bandleader and bassist; Frederico Peña, keyboardist;

Michael Aaber, keyboardist; Keyon Harrold, trumpeter; Mark Colenburg, drummer

Bassist and Composer Derrick Hodge performs selections from his debut Blue Note Records recording, Live Today.  Having served as sideman to the likes of Terence Blanchard and Robert Glasper, Hodge firmly steps out as leader as the New York Times states, “with roots in gospel, jazz and R&B….bearing earnest intentions and a glow of transparent optimism.”





Exhibit Opening:  Search for a New Sound. The Blue Note Photographs of Francis Wolff

May 3, Goethe-Institut (812 7th St., NW; Washington, D.C.  20001)

6 p.m. – 8 p.m., FREE

In addition to music, photography and design are hallmarks of Blue Note Records’ storied 75-year history. An exhibition of Francis (Frank) Wolff’s images—many of which were incorporated into Blue Note Records’ most recognizable album covers designed by Reid Miles—opens for a two month exhibition with a reception including music by pianist and Blue Note Records artist, Jason Moran, the Kennedy Center’s Artistic Advisor for Jazz. The exhibit is curated by Michael Cuscuna and Thomas Evered and organized in collaboration with the German Historical Institute. It will run through July 3. For more information: or (202) 289-1200.


Film:  Blue Note – A Story of Modern Jazz

May 5, Goethe-Institut (812 7th St., NW; Washington, D.C.  20001)

6:30 p.m.; $7; $4 students, seniors, and members of the Goethe-Institut

This 90-minute film by Julian Benedikt (1996/1997) traces the history of the famed Blue Note Records label from its infancy to the late 1980s, with first-hand interviews, concert film footage and photographs of the movers and shakers who made the label the world’s iconic jazz record company.  Followed at 8:30 by a concert by the Lennie Cuje Band.  For more information: or (202) 289-1200.


Concert:  Lennie Cuje Band

May 5, Goethe-Institut (812 7th St., NW; Washington, D.C.  20001)

8:30 p.m.; $7; $4 students, seniors, and members of the Goethe-Institut

Lennie Cuje, vibraphonist and bandleader; Jay Cooley, pianist; Bruce Swaim, flutist;

Paul Langosh, bassist

German-born American-resident vibraphonist Lennie Cuje has played with the likes of Larry Coryell, Dave Amram, Hank Mobley, and “Philly” Joe Jones, having made a name for himself in the New York jazz scene and D.C.’s U Street corridor in the ‘60s.  Preceded at 6:30 by the film Blue Note – A Story of Modern Jazz. For more information: or (202) 289-1200.


Concert: The Allyn Johnson Trio: A Tribute to the Music of Jutta Hipp

May 6, Goethe-Institut (812 7th St., NW; Washington, D.C.  20001)

8:30 p.m.; $7; $4 students, seniors, and members of the Goethe-Institut

Allyn Johnson, piano; James King, bass; Nasar Abadey, drums

Washington, D.C.-favorite pianist Allyn Johnson pays homage to German jazz pianist Jutta Hipp (1925-2003), who moved to New York in 1955 and was signed by Blue Note Records.  In 1958, disillusioned by the music business, Hipp abandoned jazz to work in a garment factory, instead choosing to focus on painting and photography.  The program is introduced by Kipp’s biographer, Katja von Schuttenbach.  For more information: or (202) 289-1200.


Panel Discussion:  Blue Note at 75: A Jazz Conversation

May 10, Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, Whittall Pavilion

2 p.m., FREE

Moderated by Larry Appelbaum, Senior Music Specialist, Library of Congress

A panel discussion on the legacy of Blue Note Records, and the impact of the label and its 75-year history on American music and culture. The panel will feature Michael Cuscuna, President and Co-founder of Mosaic Records, and Jason Moran, Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor for Jazz. Following the discussion, author Dan Ouellette and Blue Note Chairman Emeritus Bruce Lundvall will sign copies of the book Bruce Lundvall:  Playing by Ear (ArtistShare), which recounts the remarkable nearly 50-year story of Lundvall’s career in the recording industry.  For more information: or (202) 707-5502 or (202) 707-8432.


Film:  One Night with Blue Note:  The Historic All-Star Reunion Concert

May 12, Goethe-Institut (812 7th St., NW; Washington, D.C.  20001)

6:30 p.m.; $7; $4 students, seniors, and members of the Geoethe-Institut

Introduced by Larry Appelbaum, Senior Music Specialist, Library of Congress

This two-hour film by Director John Jopson with cinematography by Ernest Dickerson (1985), captures a reunion concert in New York’s Town Hall in February 1985, at the start of Blue Note’s reinvigorated period under the leadership of Bruce Lundvall. The concert brought together some of the most well-known names in jazz, as well as a handful of artists newly signed to the label, on one stage for what is considered one of the greatest nights in jazz history. For more information: or (202) 289-1200.


Film: As Time Goes By in Shanghai

May 19, Goethe-Institut (812 7th St., NW; Washington, D.C.  20001)

6:30 p.m.; $7; $4 students, seniors, and members of the Goethe-Institut

This 2013 film by German filmmaker Uli Gaulke follows the seven musicians of the Chinese ensemble “Peace Old Jazz Band” - which has been playing every evening at the Peace Hotel in Shanghai for more than thirty years - on an adventurous appearance at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam.  Most members of the band, all Jazz musicians of the first rank, are older than 80 years. Against the backdrop of great jazz hymns, the film charts with humor and music the fascinating life stories of these exceptional musicians from the Japanese occupation to the Cultural Revolution right up to today’s turbo planned economy.  For more information: or (202) 289-1200.


Concert Lecture: Jazz - the Classical Music of Globalization

May 21, German Historical Institute

(1607 New Hampshire Ave., NW; Washington, D.C.  20009)

6 p.m. – 8 p.m., FREE

Reinhold Wagnleitner, Historian, University of Salzburg;

Tom McDermott, pianist, New Orleans

The German Historical Institute and the Austrian Cultural Forum of Washington, D.C. present a concert lecture “Jazz - the Classical Music of Globalization,” with historian Reinhold Wagnleitner and jazz pianist Tom McDermott.  For more information: or (202) 387-3355.


Panel Discussion: The Role of Music in Cultural Diplomacy

May 28, Goethe-Institut (812 7th St., NW; Washington, D.C.  20001)

6:30 p.m., FREE

Wolfgang Knauer, Director, Jazz Institute Darmstadt;

Larry Appelbaum, Senior Music Specialist, Music Division, Library of Congress;

Penny M. von Eschen, Author and Professor of History and American Culture at the University of Michigan

At the height of the ideological antagonism of the Cold War, the U.S. State Department unleashed an unexpected tool in its battle against Communism:  jazz.  Panelists will discuss how from 1956 through the late 1970s, America dispatched its finest jazz musicians to the far corners of the earth, from Iraq to India, from the Congo to the Soviet Union, in order to win the hearts and minds of the Third World and to counter perceptions of American racism.  Today the U.S. State Department continues cultural touring with programs such as The Rhythm Road, showcasing American jazz, folk, and urban music.  For more information: or (202) 289-1200.


Concert: Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes Quintet: A Tribute to Curtis Fuller and Hank Mobley on Blue Note

May 28, Goethe-Institut (812 7th St., NW; Washington, D.C.  20001)

8:30 p.m.; $7; $4 students, seniors, and members of the Goethe-Institut

Trombonist Curtis Fuller (b. 1934) and saxophonist Hank Mobley (1930-1986) both signed with Blue Note Records in the mid-‘50s. Fuller later joined other labels, but Mobley remained with Blue Note for the rest of his career. Trombonist Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes Quintet perform a retrospective of their Blue Note recordings, including music from their collaborations such as Fuller’s The Opener. For more information: or (202) 289-1200.




The Blue Note Experiment

The Blue Note Experiment challenges youth in selected cities to engage with and extend the visual aesthetic of Blue Note Records, developed notably by designer Reid Miles and photographer Frank Wolff.  Established by ARTSEDGE – the Kennedy Center's digital learning program – in collaboration with the Digital Youth Network, The Blue Note Experiment program selects print and 3D works for inclusion in the Blue Note at 75 Grammy® Museum exhibit in the Kennedy Center Hall of States, which displays examples of Blue Note album cover art from the label’s 75-year history. Reviewers include Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor for Jazz Jason Moran, and Vans Senior Creative Director for Lifestyle Jon Warren, among others.  For more information visit the ARTSEDGE website.