Blue Note Records is a jazz record label, established in 1939 by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis. Francis Wolff became involved shortly thereafter. The label derives its name from the characteristic "blue notes" of Jazz and the Blues.

It was one of the most significant recording companies in the jazz world because it changed many of the dynamics of recording jazz music to accommodate the artists and the label allowed them to create works that didn't always begin as commercially viable projects.

Those days at Blue Note are behind them, as the company has been absorbed by many larger record labels over the years, and even went out of existence for a time. During the 70th Anniversary of the label, a revival of the creative spirit of Blue Note was started with the formation of the "Magnificent 7" of modern Jazz performing for the label (See "Future" below).

Blue Note began recording Hot Jazz, but is largely known for its BeBop and Hard Bop recordings. It gave Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, amongst many, a place to record and experiment. It gained its position with the great recording artists by treating them well and catering to their needs.



Blue Note released some of the best records ever recorded in jazz music. Explore the vast collection.

Blue Note Recording ArtistsEdit

BlueNoteartists sm
The question isn't: "Who played for Blue Note?" The question is: "Who counted who didn't?"

See the full list in this category page, and explore the music by way of leading artists like Horace Silver, Jimmy Smith, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Art Blakey, Lou Donaldson, Donald Byrd and Grant Green were among the label's top stars.

By 1954, Blue Note naturally gravitated toward a system that was much akin to a repertory theatre company: A stable of leaders and sidemen mixed and matched on different albums . Leaders often would appear on each other's projects as sidemen, adding to the interest value of the album for fans. Sidemen would be groomed to grow into leaders.

Sometimes moving up to leadership could be just good timing: Horace Silver's first session was to have been a Lou Donaldson quartet date that Lou had to cancel at the last minute to go out of town. Alfred thought it was time for Silver to make his debut anyway and offered him the same date as his own trio session.

Almost all of the important musicians in postwar Jazz recorded for Blue Note on occasion, albeit most often only once.

See also Category: Blue Note Recording Artists

Blue Note Recording Engineers & TechniciansEdit

Who recorded and cut the music for Blue Note's producers? A brief history of the recording team working at Blue Note.

Album ArtEdit

Hank Mobley Quintet (Front)
Blue Note's album album cover designs were as influential in the world as they were in the worlds of graphic design and the world of music.
Blue Note was the first label to feature a black musician that wasn't staged in formal attire of the dance bands of the day, but was usually a documentary photograph of producer Frank Wolff's, taken in the studio during recordings. It was highly controversial in the racially-charged world of pre-Civil Rights America (See the video at the Album Art page for more.)
The black & white images of the featured musician or band, tinted with a single color were a signature of the Blue Note album cover style.
For more on the graphic design of these covers, see: The Men Behind the Album Covers, below.
Blue Note albums defined the "cool" of BeBop and Hard Bop.

The Men Behind the Album CoversEdit

Reid Miles The graphic designers and photographers who created the album covers for Blue Note Records reshaped the art of album covers, where where previously more of an afterthought, for ever after.

The Creative History of Blue Note RecordsEdit

Lion DexterGordon Wolff
Find out how Alfred Lion, who first heard jazz as a young boy in Berlin, turned that experience into one of the most ground-breaking recording labels in jazz that recorded the biggest names, and the artists who became the biggest names, after World War II, and all of the artists, from Miles Davis to Jimmy Page to Dexter Gordon, whose careers launched or were reborn at Blue Note.

The Business Life, Death, and Rebirth of Blue NoteEdit

The record label began by social revolutionaries has become a part of the stable of one of the world's biggest recording conglomerates, EMI Records. Find out more about the business side of the history of Blue Note.

The Future & Legacy of Blue NoteEdit

Going forward, EMI has stocked Blue Note Records with a roster of musical artists worthy of the label and its traditions. Meet their "Magnificent Seven" in this video, and read more about Norah Jones and the future of the label by visiting the link below.

Blue Note's Magnificent 7 Payton, Wilson, Coltrane, Charlap, Washington, Bernstein and Nash

Blue Note's Magnificent 7 Payton, Wilson, Coltrane, Charlap, Washington, Bernstein and Nash

Blue Note's Future: The Magnificent 7


1. ^ "Design Icon: Blue Note" Computer Arts

2. ^ Martin Gayford "Blue Note Records: from Ammons to Monk, it was home to the jazz idealists", Daily Telegraph, 15 July 2009.

3. ^ Cook, Richard, Blue Note Records: The Biography, Boston: Justin Charles, 2003; ISBN 1932112103

4. ^ Blue Note Website

5. ^ Hypebot article reporting Blue Note Label Group formation

6. ^ EMI announces formation of Blue Note Label Group - new label structure for adult pop, jazz & classics

7. ^ EMI Music forms Capitol Music Group in the United States comprising Capitol and Virgin imprints

8. ^ retrieved January 20, 2010.

9. ^ retrieved January 20, 2010.


  • Cook, Richard. Blue Note Records: A Biography. ISBN 1-932112-10-3.
  • Cuscuna, Michael & Ruppli, Michel The Blue Note Label: A Discography. ISBN 0-313-31826-3 [2nd ed 2001]
  • Marsh, Graham & Callingham, Glyn. Blue Note: Album Cover Art. ISBN 0-8118-3688-6.
  • Marsh, Graham Blue Note 2: the Album Cover Art: The Finest in Jazz Since 1939. ISBN 0-8118-1853-5 [US edition]
  • Wolff, Francis et al. Blue Note Jazz Photography of Francis Wolff. ISBN 0-7893-0493-7.

External LinksEdit