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Blue Note Records to Celebrate 70th With Releases, Concerts & Tributes

Written By: Jeff Tamarkin

In 2009, Blue Note Records will celebrate two milestones when it commemorates both the 70th anniversary of the label’s founding by Alfred Lion, as well as the 25th anniversary of the its re-launch in 1984 under current president Bruce Lundvall. Blue Note plans a range multi-media offerings, including live concerts, special digital and physical reissues and new releases, the Blue Note 7; an all-star tribute band of current jazz luminaries, book releases, festival honors, merchandise and more.

The label’s plans includes:

The Blue Note 7 All-Star Tribute Band Worldwide Tour & Album Release

Events will kick off January 7 with the start of a worldwide tour by the Blue Note 7; an all-star tribute band comprising pianist and musical director Bill Charlap with trumpeter Nicholas Payton, alto saxophonist Steve Wilson, tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, guitarist Peter Bernstein, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash. The tour will hit 50 U.S. cities capped off with a week-long run at Birdland in New York April 14-19. A European tour is planned for October-November. On January 13, the septet will be releasing Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Records, an eight-song collection of re-envisioned Blue Note classics.

Blue Note Takes New York

On January 27, Blue Note will kick off a month-long invasion of New York City’s clubs and music halls with two Blue Note legends—Lou Donaldson and Dr. Lonnie Smith—at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Other artists already confirmed throughout the month of February include Anita Baker, Terence Blanchard, Bill Charlap, Robert Glasper, Norah Jones, Joe Lovano, Lionel Loueke, Wynton Marsalis, Jason Moran, Willie Nelson, Aaron Parks, Dianne Reeves and Cassandra Wilson. Venues will include the Blue Note Jazz Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Jazz Standard, Town Hall, and the Village Vanguard.

Blue Note Reissues/Merchandise

In addition to the continuation of Blue Note’s long-running RVG Series (for which the legendary recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder remasters his classic sessions) and Connoisseur Series (featuring lesser-known gems from the catalog), the label will also begin reissuing its core RVG Series titles as vinyl/CD combos. The label will also be making special digital initiatives available on and via digital retail partners around the world. In addition, during the spring-summer 2009 clothing company Friend or Foe will also present a line of their vintage-look, luxurious-feel t-shirts featuring classic Blue Note cover artwork and many other brand licensing efforts in multiple categories are in the works as Blue Note furthers its efforts of developing Blue Note as a premium lifestyle brand with licensing agent Fusion.

Blue Note Tributes At Festivals Around The World

Throughout 2009 several major jazz festivals will be paying tribute to Blue Note Records. The 6th Annual Portland Jazz Festival in Oregon (February 13-22) will dedicate itself to a 360° celebration of the label—Somethin’ Else: Blue Note Records at 70—featuring performances from Blue Note’s past and present roster, as well as panel discussions about the label’s legacy with Bruce Lundvall, Michael Cuscuna and various jazz artists, writers and historians. In addition, the Blue Note Records Festival in France (March 30-April 11) will be showcasing talent from around the world. Other festivals paying tribute to Blue Note will include the JVC Jazz Festival in New York, Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island, and multiple festivals in Europe to be confirmed.