Blue Note Records Turns 70…and My Top 10 Blue Note Jazz Recordings

2 Mar

blue-note-resizedThis year blue Note Records turned 70 years old. While many other record labels have come and gone over 70 years, Blue Note has not only managed to stay in business, but to continue to turn a profit and avoid having to cut down on their artist roster. In recent years, this is due in large part to their online download sales and some successful crossover artists including Norah Jones and Al Green.

Below is my list of my top 10 favorite Blue Note jazz recordings. As with all of my lists, this list simply offers my own personal favorites, and I truly encourage you to mention yours as well! Enjoy.

10. Birth of the Cool – Miles Davis – 1949

birth-of-cool The oldest recording on the list, but a great chance to hear Miles in the early stages of what would lead to super stardom.

9. Moanin’ – Art Blakey – 1958

moanin One of the finest examples of why Blakey was not only a great musician, but a great band leader and mentor to those who he recorded with.

8. Consummation – Thad Jones – 1970

consummation This album is not only one of the greatest big band albums ever, but features what might be the sweetest, most beautiful ballads ever with A Child is Born.

7. Song For My Father – Horace Silver – 1964

song-for-my-father I played in a small group once where our director made our pianist listen to this album over and over until our pianist “finally got it”. Silver was one of the best at playing with his group, rather than just playing.

6. Maiden Voyage – Herbie Hancock – 1965

maiden-voyage When you listen to the title track, it might seem simple in structure. But only Herbie and his hand-picked group could make it sound so perfect.

5. The Sidewinder – Lee Morgan – 1963

sidewinder There is not likely a musician who I wish could have had more time to produce more recordings than Lee Morgan. Losing him at age 33 was a tragedy, but what he did produce withstands the test of time.

4. In Pursuit of the 27th Man – Horace Silver – 1970

in-pursuit-of-27th1 An album that brought energy into the 70’s, as well as the young Brecker Brothers. Enjoyable the whole way through.

3. Empyrean Isles – Herbie Hancock – 1964

empyrian-isles This album hosts what is probably one of the most recognizable jazz tunes, even if you aren’t a jazz fan. Once again, Hancock gets together the perfect cast for these memorable recordings.

2. Ready For Freddie – Freddie Hubbard – 1961

ready-for-freddie I could listen to Freddie solo on Birdlike for hours. Whether playing fast or slow, high or low, Hubbard could always keep his solos imaginative and interesting.

1. Blue Train – John Coltrane – 1957

blue-train The first Coltrane album I ever owned, and years later it still gets heavy rotation on my personal playlist. One of the finest recordings in the history of jazz.

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13 Responses to “Blue Note Records Turns 70…and My Top 10 Blue Note Jazz Recordings”

  1. diembe March 11, 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    can not / would not add a thing to your description of blue train. true for me as well, in full. whenever i need a little external sonic help on a way to a happier state of mind, moments notice is a sure fire bet.

  2. Rob J March 16, 2009 at 10:27 am #

    Some excellent recommendations, but it is all down to personal tastes.

    Here is my Top Ten :-

    1. A Night At The Village Vanguard – Sonny Rollins
    2. Soul Station – Hank Mobley
    3. The Art Of Pepper Vol.3 – Art Pepper
    4. From The Soul – Joe Lovano
    5. Introducing…. – Johnny Griffin
    6. Free For All – Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers
    7. Time On Our Hands – John Scofield
    8. Let Freedom Ring – Jackie McLean
    9. The Young Rabbits – The Jazz Crusaders
    10.At Carnegie Hall 1957- Thelonious Monk/John Coltrane

    By tomorrow, it will be probably some other classics, but ultimately Blue Note are a class act…..

  3. Bill Metcalfe March 26, 2009 at 7:25 am #

    I agree with Blue Train as first choice. By suggesting more I don’t mean to argue with any of your choices which I think are superb.

    I also love the Sonny Clark/ Grant Green scene.
    Also Cannonball: Somethin’ Else

    And I would add a couple from the outside edges:
    Andrew Hill: Point of Departure
    Tony Williams: Spring

    Thanks!

    Thanks

  4. Blu Hulk May 25, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    I actually own 8 of these, the exception being the Thad Jones and Horace Silver albums (27th Man). Great list.

    One of my favorite BN records (and possibly one of my favorites ALL-TIME) has to be “Unity” by organist Larry Young. You have Young, Woody Shaw, Joe Henderson, and Elvin Jones. Perfection. Check it out!

  5. orangeandblackspines June 9, 2009 at 10:23 am #

    Wow all the catalog and you can narrow it down to 10??? I think you need to hear more i struggled to get it down to 150…

    Sheez lol!

  6. Alexandru December 24, 2009 at 6:18 pm #

    I must say I am happy to see this up and am thankful to all .

    I too would like to comment however my list will have no rank they will be position by the Record Date

    O YES ONE MORE THING THE BIRTH OF THE COOL IS NOT A BLUE NOTE RECORDING the Original Sessions were produed by WALTER RIVERS & PETE RUGOLO OF CAPITOL NOT ALFRED LION OF BLUE NOTE: (BLUE NOTE REISSUE IT,as they have many many others)

    so it will not be on my LIST….

    THE BLUE NOTE MUST

    The Amazing BUD POWELL- Volume 1 & 2
    ART BLAKEY – A Night At Bridland Vol. 1 & 2 (1954)
    KENNY DORHAM – Afro-Cuban (1955)
    HORACE SILVER – Further Explorations By The Horace Silver Quintet (1958)
    CANNONBALL ADDERLEY – Somethin’ Else (1958)
    DONALD BYRD – Fuego (1959)
    WALTER DAVIS, JR. Davis Cup (1960)
    FREDDIE REDD – Shades Of Redd (1960)
    FREDDIE HUBBARD – Goin’ Up (1960)
    HERBIE HANCOCK – Takin’ Off (1962)
    JOE HENDERSON – Page One (1963)
    JACKIE McLEAN – Destination Out (1963)
    HORACE SILVER – Song For My Father (1964)
    ANDREW HILL – Point Of Departure (1964)
    DEXTER GORDON – One Flight Up (1964)
    LEE MORGAN – Infinity (1965)
    DON CHERRY – Complete Communion (1965)
    HANK MOBLEY – A Slice Of The Top (1966)

    I KNOW IT’S MORE THEN TEN

  7. Alexandru December 24, 2009 at 6:22 pm #

  8. Alexandru December 24, 2009 at 6:30 pm #

  9. Sam Phillips January 15, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    10.Blue Train-Train was awesome as usual and the supporting cast just fed off of him and cooked.
    9.Somethin’Else-Cannonball’s role as a leader was great and so was his playing among these giants.
    8.Horace Parlan selection of the Turrentine brothers on this album was one of my favorite.
    7.Moanin’-Blakey was a leader and somewhat created a Blue Note sound so to speak.
    6.Sidewinder-Lee Morgan’s playing was always superb and enjoyable even to the laymen as this album indicates.
    5.Maiden Voyage-I still listen to this album a lot and think of Herbie as Blue Note bred.
    4.Song For My Father-All of my friends loves this cut and it’s well known in my circle.
    3.Sermon-Ranks as one my favorite Blue Note albums it’s almost impossible to forget Blue Note.
    2.Clubhouse-Dexter was my favorite player,glad this one was on Blue Note.
    1.Kind Of Blue-Truely this on should be in everyone collection.

  10. Tifany Franciosa March 13, 2010 at 7:00 am #

    Great Blog. Just not sure why I am up in the middle of the night reading this. 🙂 🙂

  11. Colin Hall August 25, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

    They’re still releasing Blue Train, got a copy for my wife a few months ago. My fav is Lazy Bird.

    Nice blog 🙂

    Thanks … Col

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