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Blue Note 70th Anniversary Tour at the Kimmel Center

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The whole package was highly successful and much appreciated by the audience because it captured the driving, forceful sound that was the signature of the best Blue Note recordings.
The Blue Note 7
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Verizon Hall
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

March 28, 2008



The legendary Blue Note record label is celebrating its 70th Anniversary this year. To briefly summarize its history and achievements, one can do no better than to quote from the Wikipedia entry on the subject:



"Blue Note Records is a jazz record label, established in 1939 by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis. Francis Wolff became involved shortly afterwards. [Wolff also took the photos that were on many of its famous album covers.—Eds.] It derives its name from the characteristic "blue notes" of jazz and the blues. Blue Note Records is currently owned by the EMI Group and in 2006 was expanded to fill the role of an umbrella label group bringing together a wide variety of EMI-owned labels and imprints specializing in the growing market segment of music for adults.



"Blue Note throughout its history has principally been associated with the 'hard bop' style of jazz (mixing bebop with other forms of music including soul, blues, rhythm and blues and gospel). Horace Silver

Horace Silver
Horace Silver
1928 - 2014
piano
, Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith
1925 - 2005
organ, Hammond B3
, Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
1938 - 2008
trumpet
,Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
1938 - 1972
trumpet
, Art Blakey
Art Blakey
Art Blakey
1919 - 1990
drums
, Lou Donaldson
Lou Donaldson
Lou Donaldson
b.1926
saxophone
, Donald Byrd
Donald Byrd
Donald Byrd
1932 - 2013
trumpet
and Grant Green
Grant Green
Grant Green
1935 - 1979
guitar
were among the label's leading artists, but almost all the important musicians in postwar jazz recorded for Blue Note on occasion, albeit most often only once."

The Blue Note 7 is a group of high-power musicians associated with the record label (although not necessarily most frequently recorded by them) who have come together to honor the record company and its musical legacy. Currently, they are on a tour of concert halls and other venues, and they have just produced one album, Blue Note 7 Mosaic, released of course on the famed label. In this concert at the Kimmel Center, they remained faithful to the hard bop legacy, selecting a series of tunes from Blue Note's heyday, with references to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
, Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
, McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
b.1938
piano
, Cedar Walton
Cedar Walton
Cedar Walton
1934 - 2013
piano
, and Lee Morgan. There is no way to be totally representative of the label's prodigious output, but the group's selections certainly gave a feel for the music Blue Note put out in its glory days.



At the Kimmel Center, the group performed straight through without an intermission. The musicians appeared in corporate-style business suits that mostly recalled the professionalism of the Modern Jazz Quartet and stood in contrast to the colorful and casual outfits that many groups sport today. Their attire forecast their straight-ahead hard bop-derived approach to the music, delivered in a taut, high-wired manner propelled by drummer Lewis Nash

Lewis Nash
Lewis Nash
b.1958
drums
's driving rhythm and the precise, on-the-money virtuosity of Bill Charlap
Bill Charlap
Bill Charlap
b.1966
piano
's piano, Peter Washington's upright bass, and Peter Bernstein
Peter Bernstein
Peter Bernstein
b.1967
guitar
's softer-sounding acoustic-electric guitar. The horn section of Nicholas Payton
Nicholas Payton
Nicholas Payton
b.1973
trumpet
on trumpet, Ravi Coltrane
Ravi Coltrane
Ravi Coltrane
b.1965
sax, tenor
on tenor sax, and Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson
b.1961
sax, alto
on alto sax and flute did serviceable work, sometimes shining, but not quite at the creative level that each attains with his own group, perhaps holding back out of deference to the ensemble effect. Many of the arrangements were by the players themselves. The whole package was highly successful and much appreciated by the audience because it captured the driving, forceful sound that was the signature of the best Blue Note recordings. The musicians of that time had something new to say and, even in the cavern of the recording studio (or in many cases, Rudy Van Gelder
Rudy Van Gelder
Rudy Van Gelder
b.1924
producer
's home facility in Hackensack, New Jersey), they really stepped up and drove their point across. Thus, paradoxically, by thoroughly respecting and honoring their forbears, the current group generated their own freshness and power.


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