Blue Note Records – the iconic jazz label birthed in New York in 1939 by European émigrés Alfred Lion and Max Margulis – is three-quarters-of-a-century old this year. Now under the auspices of the Universal Group (after being with EMI for many years), the imprint celebrates its 75th anniversary with a clutch of vinyl reissues of classic Blue Note titles from the vaults. JOHN COLTRANE’S only effort for the company, 1957’s ‘Blue Train‘ gets a new lease of life as a 180 GRAM vinyl reissue alongside ART BLAKEY & THE JAZZ MESSENGERS‘ ‘Free For All,’ ERIC DOLPHY’S avant-garde game-changer from 1964, ‘Out To Lunch,’ organist LARRY YOUNG’S ‘Unity,’ and saxophonist WAYNE SHORTER’S ‘Speak No Evil.’ This is the first in several batches of catalogue reissues from the label during 2014.
(left: Blue Note’s new batch of vinyl reissues)
There are new releases, too, from the label. Rising star, California trumpeter AMBROSE AKINMUSIRE – who’s due to play at the 2014 Cheltenham Jazz Festival in May – has just had his second album for the label, ‘The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier To Paint,’ released (check out SJF’s 2012 interview with him here: ). Another horn man, New York-based Japanese trumpeter, TAKUYA KURODA, debuts for the label with his soulful confection, ‘Rising Son.’
Kuroda, in fact, is a member of singer JOSÉ JAMES’ band and can be heard on the singer’s forthcoming new album (the fifth of his career and his second for Blue Note), ‘While You Were Sleeping,’ which is issued in June.
Blue Note is also being honoured with an exhibition at the Grammy Museum in the USA while former Blue Note president, Bruce Lundvall – who helped re-launch the label in the ’80s – has his autobiography, Playing By Ear, published. Blue Note also has a Facebook app available that allows fans to transpose pictures of their own faces and personalise classic Reid Miles’ designed Blue Note cover art.