This year blue Note Records turned 70 years old. While many other record labels have come and gone over 70 years, Blue Note has not only managed to stay in business, but to continue to turn a profit and avoid having to cut down on their artist roster. In recent years, this is due in large part to their online download sales and some successful crossover artists including Norah Jones and Al Green.
Below is my list of my top 10 favorite Blue Note jazz recordings. As with all of my lists, this list simply offers my own personal favorites, and I truly encourage you to mention yours as well! Enjoy.
10. Birth of the Cool – Miles Davis – 1949
The oldest recording on the list, but a great chance to hear Miles in the early stages of what would lead to super stardom.
9. Moanin’ – Art Blakey – 1958
One of the finest examples of why Blakey was not only a great musician, but a great band leader and mentor to those who he recorded with.
8. Consummation – Thad Jones – 1970
This album is not only one of the greatest big band albums ever, but features what might be the sweetest, most beautiful ballads ever with A Child is Born.
7. Song For My Father – Horace Silver – 1964
I played in a small group once where our director made our pianist listen to this album over and over until our pianist “finally got it”. Silver was one of the best at playing with his group, rather than just playing.
6. Maiden Voyage – Herbie Hancock – 1965
When you listen to the title track, it might seem simple in structure. But only Herbie and his hand-picked group could make it sound so perfect.
5. The Sidewinder – Lee Morgan – 1963
There is not likely a musician who I wish could have had more time to produce more recordings than Lee Morgan. Losing him at age 33 was a tragedy, but what he did produce withstands the test of time.
4. In Pursuit of the 27th Man – Horace Silver – 1970
An album that brought energy into the 70’s, as well as the young Brecker Brothers. Enjoyable the whole way through.
3. Empyrean Isles – Herbie Hancock – 1964
This album hosts what is probably one of the most recognizable jazz tunes, even if you aren’t a jazz fan. Once again, Hancock gets together the perfect cast for these memorable recordings.
2. Ready For Freddie – Freddie Hubbard – 1961
I could listen to Freddie solo on Birdlike for hours. Whether playing fast or slow, high or low, Hubbard could always keep his solos imaginative and interesting.
1. Blue Train – John Coltrane – 1957
The first Coltrane album I ever owned, and years later it still gets heavy rotation on my personal playlist. One of the finest recordings in the history of jazz.