Blue Note Celebrates 80th Anniversary with Vinyl Reissues

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Alfred Lion (left), Dexter Gordon and Francis Wolff

(Photo: Francis Wolff © Mosaic Images LLC)

But there’s something else about vinyl, Was said, that makes the experience of music special. “I remember showing the turntable to my kids for the first time. We sat in a circle looking at the turntable and listening to music. There’s action going on—it’s like a fireplace,” he said with a chuckle. Then, more thoughtfully, “It’s a very physical experience. And there’s an element of ritual to it that impacts human behavior at a really deep, primordial DNA level. You have to pull it out of the sleeve and treat it right. To be able to hold something physical, and to be able to read the print on the back.”

Another fan of vinyl is saxophonist Marcus Strickland, whose latest Blue Note album, People Of The Sun, is available as an LP. “I like everything about vinyl,” he said by phone from his Brooklyn home. “The sound, the size and shape, the way it showcases the artwork. And it is still in primary use in DJ culture, which is a great way of dispersing the music. ... I feel like most of the people who would like the record would be the kind who go to hear DJs at a club and like to hear all kinds of different sounds. So, I made the record that way, with short cuts that would fit on two sides. And having the vinyl at the gig is very key to selling. They’re great for signing.”

Deciding which albums to release in the vinyl format a challenge, though. “It’s a little arbitrary,” Was conceded. “Ultimately, we have to go through a process where we feel it’s going to sell enough copies to justify the expense. It’s a business; it’s a combination of aesthetics and practicality.”

Both the label’s decision to manufacture vinyl and the fans’ decision to buy it comes down to a philosophy that “music is worth owning and appreciating,” as employees at Vinyl Me, Please like to say. Was and the label share that philosophy. “I’ve been making records for a long time and have seen every type of goofy situation you can imagine between record companies and artists,” Was said. “The best way to make great music is to work with artists you believe in and let them be who they are.”

That’s also a good business plan, Was noted. “I’ve never told any artist at Blue Note what to do—ever. If they want an opinion, I’m happy to offer one. But if they have something in mind, I want them to pursue it. I believe that’s the way you build the kind of catalog that Alfred Lion built, and Bruce Lundvall continued. Just try to help great musicians make the best music they can make.” DB

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On Sale Now
July 2022
Sean Jones
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