Blue Note Records
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Blue Note Records is a jazz record label, established in 1939 by Alfred Lion, Francis Wolff and Max Margulis. 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 has been expanded to fill the function 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 (see History-Resurrection, below).
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, Jimmy Smith, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Art Blakey and Grant Green were among the label's leading artists, but almost all the important musicians in postwar jazz recorded for Blue Note on occasion.
In 1956, Blue Note employed Reid Miles, an artist who worked for Esquire magazine. The cover art produced by Miles, often featuring Wolff's photographs of musicians in the studio, was as influential in the world of graphic design as the music within would be in the world of jazz. Under Miles, Blue Note was known for their striking and unusual album cover designs. Miles' graphical design was distinguished by its tinted black and white photographs, creative use of sans-serif typefaces, and restricted color palette (often black and white with a single color), and frequent use of solid rectangular bands of color or white.
Though Miles' work is closely associated with Blue Note, and has earned iconic status and frequent homage, Miles was only a casual jazz fan, according to Richard Cook; Blue Note gave him several copies of each of the many dozens of albums he designed, but Miles gave most to friends or sold them to second-hand record shops.
A few mid-fifties album covers featured drawings by an as-yet-little-known Andy Warhol.