February 7, 2009

Blue Note Records celebrates turning 70

Blue Note Records' aim will always be to offer the best jazz music available, the head of the U.S. record label says on its 70th anniversary.

Bruce Lundvall, president and chief executive officer of the venerable New York label, said while his label has added folk rock and pop acts in recent years, its primary focus remains jazz, The New York Times reported Saturday.

So we've extended our reach beyond jazz, but we've stayed very true to jazz, Lundvall said. And it's going to be that way as long as I'm here, that's for sure.

Blue Note was founded in 1939 by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis, with Francis Wolff joining soon after. In 1965, the label was taken over by Liberty Records, which in turn was bought by United Artists in 1969. Current owner EMI Group obtained Blue Note as part of its takeover of United in 1979 but let it sit dormant until the mid-1980s.

Lundvall was picked to run Blue Note in 1984 and he has since revitalized the label by signing such notable jazz singers as Dianne Reeves and Cassandra Wilson.

Jazz saxophonist Greg Osby told the Times that the label remains the standard of the jazz music industry.

Nowhere else in the pantheon of jazz labels is there one with that much majesty or regality in the lineage, Osby said.