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Tue, 05.23.1939

Blue Note Records is Formed

Blue Note Records

*Blue Note Records is celebrated on this date in 1939. They are an American jazz record label owned by Universal Music Group and operated under Capitol Music Group.

Established by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis, it originated its name from the blue notes of jazz and the blues. Originally dedicated to recording traditional jazz and small group swing, the label switched to modern jazz around 1947. From there, Blue Note became one of the most prolific, influential, and respected jazz labels of the mid-20th century, noted for its role in facilitating its iconic modernist art direction.

Blue Note Records has historically been associated with jazz's "hard bop" style and recorded essential avant-garde and free jazz styles.  Horace SilverJimmy SmithFreddie HubbardLee MorganArt BlakeyGrant GreenHank MobleyWayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson, Donald Byrd, and Jackie McLean were among the label's leading artists. During its heyday, the 1950s and 1960s, the photography and graphic art of Reid Miles created a series of iconic album covers, often incorporating session photos by Francis Wolff, which added to Blue Note's artistic reputation. Blue Note has seen continuity in releases from older artists such as Shorter, Charles Lloyd, Louis Hayes, and Dr. Lonnie Smith.

In 2019 the imprint announced the launch of a vinyl reissue series of classic titles with releases selected and produced by Grammy-nominated producer and jazz expert Joe Harley. The series, named the Tone Poet series in honor of Harley, reissues several titles each year from the Blue Note catalog.

There has been much sampling of classic Blue Note tracks by both hip-hop artists and for mashing projects. In 1993, the group Us3 designed its debut album on samples from classic Blue Note records. In 2008, hip-hop producer Questlove of The Roots compiled Droppin' Science: Greatest Samples from the Blue Note Lab, a collection of original Blue Note recordings sampled by modern-day hip-hop artists such as Dr. Dre and A Tribe Called Quest.

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