Jamie Cullum concludes the story of Blue Note Records and the rise of modern jazz, 70 years after the German immigrant and jazz enthusiast Alfred Lion held the very first recording session for the label in New York.
Jamie reveals how the decades of dedicated industry finally took their toll on Lion and Wolff. The struggle to keep an independent label solvent came to a head in the late 1960s and the label was sold. Lion retired and the 1970s saw a splintering of jazz styles in the music world. As the decade closed Blue Note became something of a sleeping label.
But club DJs and the hip-hop culture was picking up on old Blue Note tunes, sampling them, and they were turning up in the most unexpected places, as saxophonist and MC Soweto Kinch and author Brian Morton reveal.
By the early 1980s the label was alive but neglected, until a music fan and archivist Michael Cuscuna started hunting down the vast vault of unreleased music by Blue Note, and discovered a treasure trove of unheard material that is still being released today. The label was revived and re-launched in 1985 by another life-long jazz fan Bruce Lundvall, who saw rich new exciting talent pour in, like Cassandra Wilson and Dianne Reeves; Wynton Marsalis; pianists Robert Glasper and Jason Moran; saxophonists Greg Osby and Jo Lovano; and singer Kurt Elling. Blue Note was experimenting more with vocalists and in the process discovering one of the finest jazz singers of modern times, Norah Jones.
Contributors include Kenny Burrell (Blue Note musician); Lou Donaldson (Blue Note musician); Soweto Kinch (saxophonist and MC); Brian Morton (co-author of the Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings); Stephen Duffy (jazz singer and broadcaster); Dianne Reeves (Blue Note musician); Ashley Khan (journalist and author of forthcoming history of Blue Note records); Michael Cuscuna (archivist and music producer); Bruce Lundvall (President of Blue Note records); and Sheila Jordan (Blue Note musician).