I know there’s a Jazz Thread, but since Blue Note holds a special place in jazz history (and especially among vinyl collectors), and because VMP is in the midst of its Blue Note exclusive series, it seems apt to have a thread of its own. So here’s a dedicated thread for discussion of Blue Note specifically – the VMP releases, the different sessions, the players that made the label so famous, and because this is a message board about vinyl, a discussion about the various pressings and vinyl versions available on the market. For the unfamiliar: Why is Blue Note so important in jazz history, and to vinyl collectors? 1. While Blue Note started out in the swing era, it became most notable in the 1950s when they began putting out arguably the most important recordings of “hard bop”, a developing subgenre in jazz that infused the intellectual style of bebop – that had been pioneered by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie – with influences from rhythm and blues, soul, and what musicians began to refer to as “funk” (though very different in sound from the funk we know today). In fact, Scott Yanow, in his essay “17 Essential Hard Bop Recordings” notes that while it’s tough the trace the exact origin of hard bop, “a good starting point is Miles Davis' Blue Note sessions of 1952-54.” Twelve of his seventeen essential recordings were released on Blue Note. 2. Blue Note paid musicians to rehearse. Unlike most jazz labels of the time period, Blue Note made the decision that the label would pay musicians to rehearse for their sessions, and encouraged the development of new material. This made them incredibly progressive as a label, and led to consistently high quality material on their releases. 3. Blue Note employed a roster of superstars in its operations. The labels founders, Alfred P. Lion, Francis Wolff and Max Margulis were all giant jazz geeks, and entrusted and empowered musicians to do their best work. To do so, they employed people who painstakingly documented that work with the reverence and honor it deserved: Rudy Van Gelder, the most celebrated recording engineer in jazz history; Reid Miles, a graphic designer from Esquire, who joined the label to develop their album covers which are some of the most celebrated in music history; and Ike Quebec and Duke Pearson, two celebrated musicians in their own right, who served as talent scouts for the label. 4. The vinyl. Like the rest of Blue Note’s operations, the label put incredible care into the quality of its vinyl releases. Blue Note vinyl collectors obsessively scour the dead wax of records looking for four things: “Van Gelder” or “RVG”, indicating the mastering was done by Rudy Van Gelder; a “deep groove” label, which generally – though not always – indicates it’s an early pressing of a record; the address on the label, which along with the presence of a deep groove label indicates what time period the pressing is from; and finally the infamous “ear”. In fact what looks like and is described as an ear, is actually a hand scribed “P” that’s been inverted in the pressing process. That P stands for Plastylite, a pressing plant that was based in North Plainfield, NJ. Plastylite pressed all of Blue Notes records up until the label was sold to Liberty in the mid 1960s, and is considered to have done exceptionally high quality work. The combination of Rudy Van Gelder’s mastering, the high quality of the Plastylite pressings, and the scarcity of many early Blue Note releases make some of their records the most expensive and sought after by jazz collectors. Other labels used Van Gelder, had their records pressed by Plastylite, and hired many of the same musicians as Blue Note – but it is the combination of all of the above that really made the label and its recordings so special. TL;DR: · Blue Note made the most important hard bop recordings. · Blue Note paid musicians to rehearse. · Blue Note hired the best people. · Blue Note had the best vinyl pressings.