Blue Note

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Blue Note Records is a jazz record label, established in 1939 by Alfred Lion, Francis Wolff and Max Margulis. It derives its name from the characteristic “blue notes” of jazz and the blues. Blue Note Records is currently owned by the EMI Group and in 2006 has been expanded to fill the function of an umbrella label group bringing together a wide variety of EMI-owned labels and imprints specializing in the growing market segment of music for adults (see History-Resurrection, below).

Blue Note throughout its history has principally been associated with the “hard bop” style of jazz (mixing bebop with other forms of music including soul, blues, rhythm and blues and gospel). Horace Silver, Jimmy Smith, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Art Blakey and Grant Green were among the label’s leading artists, but almost all the important musicians in postwar jazz recorded for Blue Note on occasion.

History of Blue Note records

Early years

Lion was a German who first heard jazz as a young boy in Berlin. He moved to New York in 1937, and in 1939 recorded pianists Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis in a one-day session in a rented studio. The Blue Note label initially consisted of Lion and Max Margulis, a communist writer who funded the project. The label’s first releases were traditional “hot” jazz and boogie woogie, and the label’s first hit was a performance of “Summertime” by saxophonist Sidney Bechet. Musicians were supplied with alcoholic refreshments, and recorded in the early hours of the morning after their evening’s work in clubs and bars had finished.

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