Blue Note’s 80th anniversary

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The Blue Note label, home to some of the most original jazz of the 1960s, with works by Wayne Shorter (see original reception), Herbie Hancock and Joe Henderson among them, marks its 80th birthday this year.

Founder Alfred Lion, a German immigrant, made his first record session in New York on 6 January 1939, committing to wax the boogie-woogie pianists Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis after being inspired by their performance at John Hammond’s Spirituals to Swing concert the previous December. The label went on to make landmark recordings across the stylistic spectrum of jazz (and to some listeners’ ears, well beyond it). Other among its outstanding jazz practitioners were Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Horace Silver (who gave his opinions on various records to Jazz Journal in 1969), Art Blakey, Sonny Clark, Jimmy Smith, Dexter Gordon, Grant Green, Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor.

The label was relaunched by Bruce Lundvall in 1984, and since 2012 has been run by Don Was, under whom, it is claimed, it “has remained the leading label dedicated to documenting today’s vibrant and creatively thriving jazz scene”.

Blue Note says it will mark its 80th birthday with vinyl reissues, the Blue Note Review boxset subscription series, a documentary film, live events, branded clothing, prints of classic Blue Note imagery, streaming and more.