Ontelly

70 Years of Cool - Episode 2


Jamie Cullum tells the three-part story of Blue Note Records and the rise of modern jazz, 70 years after the German immigrant and jazz enthusiast Alfred Lion held the very first recording session for the label in New York . John Coltrane was the cat that got away. He so very nearly signed for Blue Note, but although he slipped through the label's fingers he did record one album, Blue Train, which is considered Coltrane's first true masterpiece. Miles Davis was another artist who recorded briefly for Blue Note, one of his best outing on the label was Somethin' Else, but his sessions were blurred by drug use. Jamie discovers the damage drugs did on the jazz scene during this period, and the impact it had on Blue Note recordings. Jamie takes a look at some key Blue Note artists: how by sheer luck the label unearthed the young Herbie Hancock, and what a profound effect he had on the world of jazz. And Sheila Jordan talks about her only Blue Note recording, and how rare it was for vocalists like her to be recorded on the label before the 1980s, and why that was. Meanwhile Alfred Lion's childhood friend Frank Wolff was photographing recording sessions, in a raw and unique style, showing musicians ruminating over chord changes or soaked in sweat amidst a solo. The label didn't skip a beat in putting photographs of black artists on the covers at a time when America was still deeply racially divided. Later joined at Blue Note by artist Reid Miles, his partnership with Wolff was as influential in the world of design as the music would be in the world of jazz. It was distinguished by moody photography and creative typography, both unique and beautiful. Among this influential art, Jamie discovers a handful of mid-Fifties album covers, featuring drawings by a then little-known commercial artist called Andy Warhol.