KCRW Celebrates the 75th Anniversary of Blue Note Records

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Blue Note Records was founded back in 1939 and went on to become one of the greatest labels of jazz.

Rhythm Planet host Tom Schnabel shares the fascinating history of the label in one of his recent blog posts. He attributes Blue Note’s greatness to their championing of lesser-known players who were coming up on their own as jazz titans — Thelonious Monk, Freddie Hubbard and Herbie Hancock, to name a few — and the consistent quality of their recordings thanks to Rudy Van Gelder, who is considered the best recording engineer in jazz history.

(Side note: Blue Note was one of the only labels to pay musicians to rehearse prior to recording them. Label founder Alfred Lion insisted they take the time to do so in order to showcase the artists at their very best.)

Current label president Don Was sat down with Elvis Mitchell recently to chat about his musical history on The Treatment.

Like Elvis, the Grammy Award-winning producer (for Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, among others), was born in Detroit.

Elvis says he always thought of Blue Note as a Detroit label because there were so many other natives on the roster: Donald Bird, Paul Chambers, Gene Harris, Kenny Burrell, Elvin Jones, and Ron Carter.

Don compared the city with the label itself in “facing adversity and grooving through it”.

He tells Elvis about his first exposure to jazz, thanks to Detroit’s legendary jazz DJ Ed Love, and talked about where the genre is going saying, “change is kind of built into jazz on a cellular level. It’s supposed to constantly be evolving.”

Hear the full interview and find info on all their vinyl reissues around the 75-year-anniversary here!