Blue Note: A Story Of Modern Jazz

November 6, 2014 - Comment

“It must schwing!” was the motto of Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, two German Jewish immigrants who in 1939 set up Blue Note Records, the jazz label that was home to such greats as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins. Blue Note, the most successful movie

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“It must schwing!” was the motto of Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, two German Jewish immigrants who in 1939 set up Blue Note Records, the jazz label that was home to such greats as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins. Blue Note, the most successful movie ever made about jazz, is a testimony to the passion and vision of these two men and certainly swings like the propulsive sounds that made their label so famous.

Comments

Dean R. Brierly says:

Flawed but Essential When Julian Benedikt’s documentary on the famous Blue Note record label aired as a two-part television special in 1997, it was cause for celebration among jazz fans, albeit tempered with a sense of frustration. The small, independent company, founded by German immigrants Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff in 1939, played a seminal role in the development of jazz from the postwar period through the late 1960s. Lion and Wolff privileged quality over all other considerations, and recorded artists when other labels wouldn’t touch them. (Thelonious Monk is a prime example.) Such an enlightened and progressive corporate attitude would be unthinkable in today’s bottom-line climate. Blue Note had a sound, a style and a look all its own. The label arguably reached its artistic peak in the late-50s to early 60s with its roster of powerhouse hard bop players as Hank Mobley, Jackie McLean, Art Blakey and dozens of others. If Benedikt had simply focused his camera on the surviving musicians and…

C. Rotolo says:

a perfect companion dvd to “One Night w/Blue Note”… …particularly as this film shows tantalizing clips from the ’85 event. Great to finally have this classic on dvd. This 1997 documentary covers all the bases – the background and perspective of Blue Note’s founder, Alfred Lion, the recording session atmosphere, the enthusiasm and dedication of the musicians, Francis Wolff’s photographs, Reid Miles’ covers and Rudy Van Gelder’s sound. If you own or have seen the Burns series, this film fills in some of the gaps and corrects some of the misconceptions perpetrated by that series’ final few episodes, and it does so without all the cloying narration. Director Julian Benedikt does a masterful job of editing and sequencing the various segments to provide an ‘improvisational’ balance between interviews and performance footage and between coverage of the label’s heyday and its contemporary influence. The performance footage for the most part is electrifying, including period clips of Art Blakey, Horace Silver and Thelonious Monk, the…

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