2019 marks the 80th anniversary of one of the most iconic labels in jazz: Blue Note Records. It was co-founded in New York in 1939 by German-Jewish émigré Alfred Lion, who recorded his maiden session for his fledgling company on January 6th that year. Under Lion’s capable stewardship the company would soon blossom and become one of America’s leading purveyors of modern jazz in the 1950s and ’60s.
After Lion’s retirement in 1966, the label was sold to Liberty Records, and then, in 1969, was absorbed into United Artists. Blue Note became part of the EMI family a decade later but was mothballed at that point, remaining dormant until 1985 when it was revived under the stewardship of Bruce Lundvall, who revived the label with new signings (from Cassandra Wilson and Dianne Reeves to Norah Jones and Robert Glasper) as well as paying tribute to the label’s history by exploiting its back catalogue in various reissue campaigns. Ill-health forced Lundvall to retire in 2011 and in 2012, noted record producer, Don Was, became the company’s president. Under Was’ watch, the label has begun to blossom again, helped by key new signings such as Ambrose Akinmusire, Kandace Springs, and Marcus Strickland, as well as the acquisition of esteemed veterans such as Wayne Shorter (now enjoying his second stint at the label) and Charles Lloyd.
In celebration of the label’s 80th anniversary, the label is set to light up 2019 with a clutch of exciting reissue projects. Top of the list are a stack of themed vinyl reissues. The first drop on February 8th 2019 with the launch of Blue Note’s Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series. Mastered from the original 1/4-inch tapes, the first two titles in this keenly-anticipated series are Wayne Shorter‘s ‘Etcetera’ and Chick Corea‘s ‘Now He Sings, Now He Sobs,’ both due next month. Both these titles and all eighteen scheduled reissues in the series come in deluxe packaging and have been supervised by sound guru and producer, Joe “Tone Poet” Harley, renowned for his sterling work on indie label Music Matters’ vinyl reissues of Blue Note albums between 2007 and 2017.
Don Was and Blue Note’s long-serving head of PR, Cem Kurosman, are the curators of a swathe of titles in five other reissue series under the banner Blue Note 80 due to be launched later this year – they are Blue Note Debuts, Blue Grooves, Great Reid Miles Covers, Blue Note Live, and Blue Note Drummer Leaders.
For more info go to: http://www.bluenote.com/