From May 3 to May 11, 2014, the Kennedy Center presents Blue Note at 75, marking the Diamond Anniversary of Blue Note Records. Hosted by Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor for Jazz and Blue Note Records artist, Jason Moran, the salute features performances by some of the iconic label’s most notable musicians from past and present. In addition to events at the Kennedy Center, collaborative events at other locations in Washington, D.C.—at the Goethe-Institut, the Library of Congress, and the German Historical Institute—include related lectures, film screenings, a photo exhibit, concerts, and more. In cooperation with the Los Angeles-based GRAMMY® Museum, a special exhibit in the Kennedy Center Hall of States displays examples of Blue Note album cover art, one of the label’s non-musical hallmarks. ARTSEDGE, the Kennedy Center’s digital learning program, holds a national online album cover art challenge for youth in four cities, in association with the Digital Youth Network.
Says Jason Moran, “Blue Note is the only jazz label that has been in existence this long – that exists today in its original form. It’s an icon of sound, style and design. It transcends time, and will always remain cool. It is jazz recording history.”
Ticketed, main stage Kennedy Center events feature GRAMMY Award®-winning jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard and his quintet; GRAMMY®-winning hip-hop jazz pianist Robert Glasper and his Robert Glasper Experiment; a Listening Party with Jason Moran and Terence Blanchard discussing their all-time top Blue Note albums and tracks; and a signature closing night concert bringing together an all-star lineup of artists, including NEA Jazz Masters Lou Donaldson, Bobby Hutcherson, Wayne Shorter, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and McCoy Tyner.
Additionally, renowned artists take to the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage to perform daily free concerts including – among others – Marlena Shaw, Fabian Almazan, Lionel Loueke, and Derrick Hodge. An additional performance of classic Blue Note repertoire will be given by members of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the big band orchestra in residence at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Highlights of other events throughout Washington, D.C. include a Francis Wolff photography exhibit at the Goethe-Institut, showcasing original photographs from iconic Blue Note album covers; a free panel discussion on the 75-year history of Blue Note, hosted by the Library of Congress; and a concert-lecture at the German Historical Institute. For updates on all events, please visit www.kennedy-center.org/bluenote.
ABOUT BLUE NOTE RECORDS
For 75 years, the Blue Note Records catalog has traced the entire history of jazz from Hot Jazz, Boogie Woogie and Swing; through Bebop, Hard Bop and Post Bop; to Soul Jazz, Avant-Garde, Fusion, and onward. The label’s beginnings start with childhood friends Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, who, as adults, separately left their native Germany and settled in New York City in the 1930s. Once in the U.S., Lion became an original founder of Blue Note Records (est. 1939), with Wolff joining the company soon thereafter. With Lion and Wolff at the helm over the next few decades – supported by the talents of many others including the likes of commercial designer Reid Miles and recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder – Blue Note Records became noted for its consistently transcendent music, elegant and insightful photography, sterling sound quality, and strikingly original cover artwork.
After a brief dormancy from 1981-1984 during which producer/historian Michael Cuscuna kept the label’s legacy alive with a series of reissues on EMI, Blue Note returned reinvigorated by the leadership of Bruce Lundvall, who broadened the label’s horizon to include quality music in other genres as well as jazz. In 2011, veteran record producer and musician Don Was joined Blue Note, eventually becoming President, with Lundvall continuing to provide guidance as Chairman Emeritus.
Artists from the 75-year history of the label are too numerous to fully list, but include household names from the jazz and non-jazz realms, including: Cannonball Adderley, Ambrose Akinmusire, Anita Baker, Art Blakey, Terence Blanchard, Ornette Coleman, Donald Byrd, John Coltrane, Ravi Coltrane, Elvis Costello, Miles Davis, Lou Donaldson, Robert Glasper, Al Green, Herbie Hancock, Stefon Harris, Joe Henderson, Andrew Hill, Freddie Hubbard, Norah Jones, Lionel Loueke, Joe Lovano, Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis, Jason Moran, Thelonious Monk, Willie Nelson, Greg Osby, Bud Powell, Gregory Porter, Dianne Reeves, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, Jimmy Smith, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jacky Terrasson, McCoy Tyner, Chucho Valdés, and Cassandra Wilson.