Blue Note Records is a New York record label that was founded in 1939. The label specializes in jazz music and was founded by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis, two German immigrants. Lion was involved with the music and Margulis was the money lender. Examples of artists who have released an album on the Blue Note Label are Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, Donald Byrd, Dexter Gordon, Bobby Hutchersons, Wayne Shorter, Jimmy Smith, Lou Donaldson, Kenny Dorham, Stanley Turrentine, The Jazz Messengers, Joe Henderson and Grant Green. In the beginning the recordings were made in the living room of the parents of the sound engineer Rudy Van Gelder.
Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell were the first two artists contracted by Blue Note LP Records. Jazz was a flourishing music stream at the time, especially the bebop style. The Round Midnight Blue Note release was the very first record that Monk released with the record label, but the audience didn't like it and the record became a big flop. Nowadays it is an "old school classic", much appreciated by jazz lovers.
The first big success was with Summertime by saxophonist Sidney Bechet. In 1941, Lion's childhood friend Francis Wolff joined Blue Note Records as a manager. Wolff also photographed the practice sessions of the jazz musicians, which were organised by Lion prior to the studio recording. Wolff's photos were often used for the Blue Note album covers, which were designed by graphic designer Reid Miles.
Between 1947 and 1952 the sale of records went badly. After this period, Blue Note was seen as the most important jazz music label. This was partly because the label had signed a contract with pianist Bud Powell and trumpet player Miles Davis. Both musicians were already praised for their music. The label was known for being pampered during studio recordings and for musicians being paid for rehearsals prior to the recording session, which led to a better end result, according to the music label. They also dared to offer artists a contract again if they had been in prison for illegal possession and / or use of drugs, such as saxophonist Dexter Gordon.
In the early 1980s and later years, the music label was known for the fact that Blue Note was one large family. Everyone played together on the record, but was not part of the group. Herbie Hancock played on Miles Davis and vice versa.