There’s a fair claim to be made that the Blue Note label is the greatest music label in history.
Its iconic releases came at a time when America was still segregated, and ironically the hippest, most technically brilliant music in the land was being created by black musicians. Go figure.
Making a name for itself through the fair treatment of musicians, good recording techniques and eye-catching visuals, Blue Note became the jazz musician’s – as well as jazz listener’s – label of choice. These collections cover the hard bop to hard funk periods of the label, when its stars went from using Italian tailors to wearing dashikis and playing slap bass.
“New York Is Our Home” and “African Rhythms” present the hard bop period, when jazz musicians began to search for a ‘blacker’ music. Rhythm and blues became a primary influence, and these CDs contain many classic and less well-known compositions from the kings of 50s New York. Musicians such as Art Blakey, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and Thad Jones carved out a legacy that remains to this day.
“The Funk Jazz Brothers” and “On The Corner” come straight from a period in jazz where solos were just about as long as your hair, and the ghetto was the marketplace. Determined to bring jazz back to the people, musicians such as Ronnie Laws, Donald Byrd and Gene Harris took on board funk influences in a collision that still reverberates. Tasty Hammond by the likes of Jack McDuff and Jimmy McGriff prevails, as these funk masters began to put some acid into their jazz.
Now over 50 years on since the first of these recordings were made, the impact can still be felt in modern music. With the vaults still brimming with vinyl, the legacy of Blue Note looks assured.