Sunday, August 23, 2009

I don't care for commercial adornments. Also, my daddy's rich and my mama's good looking.

“John Coltrane and Chinese food is my date for the night” - Tariq.

Hot jazz ... is expression and communication, a musical and social manifestation, and Blue Note records are concerned with identifying its impulse, not its sensational and commercial adornments.

- Blue Note's manifesto,
May 1939.

A man from Berlin named Alfred Lion was the primary founder of Blue Note. He joined with an American Communist writer named Max Margulis (all white jazz fans were Commies back then, it was dope) and a childhood friend named Frank Wolff, pressed 50 copies of discs by their first label signees Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis, and proceeded to shut it down in the music world. I mean, it took them a while, but eventually they just killed it. Everybody's heard of Blue Note, right? That tells you. Their first hit, by the way, was Bechet doing "Summertime," which is a fine way to send off the months of June through August if you are feeling kinda sad (even though football's starting soon).

Everybody says Wolff and Lion actually hung out with the musicians in Harlem (which was rare for label bosses at the time; but wait, it still is, no?) and they were held in high regard by the musicians' union for paying fairly and generously giving their artists food and booze.
"People used to say 'Albert and Frank record only what they like'," Wolff said; they had a reputation for creating a supportive atmosphere at the label, while caring primarily about the quality of the music rather than its marketability (???? Pardon me?). At first I was thinking Def Jam during my inevitable game of "What's the hip-hop equivalent?" But then it became so clear! What the hell took me so long? DEF JUX.
(minus the Vast Aire fiasco of 2009).

The album above isn't the best way to rep Blue Note on a blog post; Coltrane only did the one album for the label and it was to satisfy a commitment he had made before signing his Prestige contract.
But that picture.
I had to.

(Frank Wolff photo)

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