Blue Note Labelography

(1951-1978)

 

 

 

1a. This label was used from the introduction of the Blue Note LP in 1951 through 1957. Most of the background color of the label is white, but the left vertical one-sixth of the label is in medium blue. On this medium-blue background, BLUE is printed vertically in white, in 5/16 inch letters. The horizontal bottom one-sixth of the label is in medium blue. On this medium-blue background, NOTE is printed horizontally in white, in 5/16 inch letters. All other printing is blue. Often the printing of the artist name and selections is a slightly darker hue than the medium blue background. The record prefix is BLP, probably meaning Blue Note LP. 33 1/3 MICROGROOVE LONG PLAYING is printed at the label edge, following the label's curve from 11 o'clock to 4 o'clock. BLUE NOTE RECORDS 767 LEXINGTON AVE NYC is printed 3/4 inch from the label edge, following the label's curve from 10:30 to 3:00. Very early stampings of this label are on a heavy, fairly rigid platter without the raised lead in groove and label and the label's later and more characteristic stampings are on a lighter, more flexible platter with raised label and lead-in groove. Recordings on this label are monaural only.

 

Among the first releases on this label are:

Sidney Bechet. Blue Note Jazzmen with Wild Bill Davison. Sidney Bechet, soprano saxophone. Wild Bill Davison, cornet. Jimmy Archey or Ray Diehl, tuba. Art Hodes or Joe Sullivan, piano. George "Pops" Foster or Walter Page, bass. "Slick" Jones, drums. Blue Note BLP 7001 10" (1951).

Bud Powell. Trio. Bud Powell, piano. Curley Russell, bass. Max Roach, drums. Blue Note BLP 1503 12" (1951).

 

 

1b. This label was used from 1958 through 1962. Most of the background color of the label is white, but the left vertical one-sixth of the label is in medium blue. On this medium-blue background, BLUE is printed vertically in white, in 5/16 inch letters. The horizontal bottom one-sixth of the label is in medium blue. On this medium-blue background, NOTE is printed horizontally in white, in 5/16 inch letters. All other printing is blue. Often the printing of the artist name and selections is a slightly darker hue than the medium-blue background. The record prefix is BLP, probably meaning Blue Note LP or BST, probably meaning Blue Note Stereo. 33 1/3 MICROGROOVE LONG PLAYING is printed at the label edge, following the label's curve from 11 o'clock to 4 o'clock on monaural records and 33 1/3 STEREO LONG PLAYING is printed at the label edge, following the label's curve from 10:30 to 4:30 on stereo records. BLUE NOTE RECORDS · 47 WEST 63rd · NYC is printed 3/4 inch from the label's edge, following the label's curve from 10:30 to 3:00. On later issues INC is found inserted after RECORDS. On earlier issues NEW YORK 23 appears after 47 WEST 63rd following the label's curve to 4:30. Recordings on this label are both monaural and stereo.

 

One of the early releases on this label is:

John Coltrane. Blue Train. John Coltrane, tenor saxophone. Kenny Drew, piano. Paul Chamber, bass. Philly Joe Jones, drums. Dr. Rudy van Gelder, recording engineer. Blue Note BLP/BST (8)1577 (1958).

 

 

1c. This label was used from 1962 to 1966. Most of the background color of the label is white, but the left vertical one-sixth of the label is in medium blue. On this medium-blue backround, BLUE is printed vertically in white, in 5/16 inch letters. The horizontal bottom one-sixth of the label is in medium blue. On this medium-blue background, NOTE is printed horizontally in white, in 5/16 inch letters. All other printing is blue. Often the printing of the artist name and selections is a slightly darker hue than the medium-blue background. It is also found printed in black. The record prefix is BLP, probably meaning Blue Note LP or BST, probably meaning Blue Note Stereo. 33 1/3 MICROGROOVE LONG PLAYING is printed at the label edge, following the label's curve from 11 o'clock to 4 o'clock on monaural records and 33 1/3 STEREO LONG PLAYING is printed at the label edge, following the label's curve from 10:30 to 4:30 on stereo records. BLUE NOTE RECORDS INC · NEW YORK USA is printed 3/4 inch from the label edge, following the label's curve from 10:30 to 2:30. Recordings on this label are both monaural and stereo.

 

One of the early releases on this label is:

Dexter Gordon. Go. Dexter Gordon, tenor saxophone. Sonny Clark, piano. Butch Warren, bass. Billy Higgins, drums. Dr. Rudy van Gelder, recording engineer. Blue Note BLP/BST (8) 4112 (1962).

 

 

2a. This label was used from 1966 to 1970. Most of the background color of the label is white, but the left vertical one-sixth of the label is in medium blue. On this medium-blue background, BLUE is printed vertically in white, in 5/16 inch letters. The horizontal bottom one-sixth of the label is in medium blue. On this medium-blue background, NOTE is printed horizontally in white, in 5/16 inch letters. All other printing is blue. Often the printing of the artist name and selections is a slightly darker hue than the medium-blue background. Occasionally it is found printed in black. The record prefix is BLP, probably meaning Blue Note LP or BST probably meaning Blue Note Stereo. 33 1/3 MICROGROOVE LONG PLAYING is printed at the label edge, following the label's curve from 11 o'clock to 4 o'clock on monaural records and 33 1/3 STEREO LONG PLAYING is printed at the label edge, following the label's curve from 10:30 to 4:30 on stereo records. BLUE NOTE RECORDS · A DIVISION OF LIBERTY RECORDS, INC. is printed 3/4 inch from the label edge, following the label's curve from 10:30 to 4:00. Recordings on this label are both monaural and stereo. This is sometimes a re-release label.

 

One of the early releases on this label is:

Jackie McLean. New and Old Gospel. Jackie McLean, alto saxophone. Ornette Coleman, trumpet. Lamont Johnson, piano. Scotty Holt, bass. Billy Higgins, drums. Dr. Rudy van Gelder, recording engineer. Blue Note BLP/BST (8) 4262 (1967).

 

 

2b. This label was used from 1970 to about 1973. Most of the background color of the label is white, but the left vertical one-sixth of the label is in medium blue. On this medium-blue background, BLUE is printed vertically in white, in 5/16 inch letters. The horizontal bottom one-sixth of the label is in medium blue. On this medium-blue background, NOTE is printed horizontally in white, in 5/16 inch letters. All other printing is blue. Often the printing of the artist name and selections is a slightly darker hue than the medium-blue background-it is also is found printed in black. The record prefix is BLP, probably meaning Blue Note LP or BST, probably meaning Blue Note Stereo. 33 1/3 MICROGROOVE LONG PLAYING is printed at the label's edge, following the label's curve from 11 o'clock to 4 o'clock on monaural records and 33 1/3 STEREO LONG PLAYING is printed at the label edge, following the label's curve from 10:30 to 4:00 on stereo records. BLUE NOTE RECORDS · A DIVISION OF UNITED ARTISTS RECORDS, INC. is printed 3/4 inch from the label edge, following the label's curve from 10:30 to 4:00. Recordings on this label are both monaural and stereo. This is often a re-release label.

 

One of the early releases on this label is:

Donald Byrd. Electric Byrd. Donald Byrd, trumpet. Bill Campbell, trombone. Jerry Dodgion, alto and soprano saxophone and flute. Frank Foster, tenor and alto saxophone and flute. Lew Tabackin, tenor saxophone and flute. Hermeto Pascoal, flute. Pepper Adams, baritone saxophone and clarinet. Duke Pearson, piano. Wally Richardson, guitar. Ron Carter, bass. Mickey Roker, drums. Airto Moreira, percussion. Dr. Rudy van Gelder, recording engineer. Blue Note BST 84349 (1970).

 

 

3a. This label was used from about 1973 to 1976. The background color of the label is dark blue. A stylized black b logo is found at 2 o'clock. A blue eighth-note is printed on the b logo. BLUE NOTE is printed under the b logo, vertically, in black, to the right of the center hole. The record prefix is BST, probably meaning Blue Note Stereo. BLUE NOTE RECORDS-A DIVISION OF UNITED ARTIST RECORDS, INC. · MADE IN THE USA · ALL RIGHTS RESERVED is printed in black along the label rim from 8 o'clock to 4 o'clock. All other printing is in silver. Recordings on this label are generally stereo. This generally is a re-release label.

 

 

3b. This label was used from about 1977 to 1978. The background color of the label is dark blue. A stylized white b logo is found at 2 o'clock. A blue eighth-note is printed on the b logo. Blue Note is printed under the b logo, vertically, in white and to the right of the center hole. The record prefix is BST, probably meaning Blue Note Stereo. · BLUE NOTE RECORDS · MANUFACTURED BY UNITED ARTIST MUSIC AND RECORDS GROUP INC. · LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA · MADE IN THE USA · is printed in black along the label rim from 10:30 o'clock to 1:30 o'clock. All other printing is in silver. Recordings on this label are generally stereo. This generally is a re-release label.

 

 

3ex. This label was used briefly after 1970. Most of the background color of the label is black, but the left vertical one-sixth of the label is in light blue. A rectangular BLUE NOTE logo appears to the left of the center hole. It is printed in light blue and medium blue and is outlined in black. All other printing is silver except LIBERTY UA. INC. , LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA which is printed in white along the label rim from 7:30 o'clock to 4:30 o'clock. The record prefix is BST, probably meaning Blue Note Stereo. Recordings on this label are generally stereo. This generally is a re-release label.

 

 

4. This label was used in the mid 1970s. The background color of the label is dark blue. A stylized white b in a black circle logo is found at 11 o'clock. A blue eighth-note is printed on the b logo. THE BLUE NOTE RE-ISSUE SERIES is printed, in white above and below the black circle. All printing is in silver. The record prefix is BN , probably meaning Blue Note. [Pdate] United Artists Music And Records Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved is printed in three lines at the center label bottom.. Recordings on this label are monaural and stereo. This, generally, is a re-release label.

 

 

Notes


Blue Note records on Label No. 1 have extremely fine sound and are beautifully made. This is particularly true of those with a circular groove pressed into the label 1 1/4 inch from the center of the disq. These pressings are known as '(Dennis Davis) Deep Groove' Blue Notes and are sought after.
Blue Note Label No. 2 can also have extremely fine sound, though there is more variation in pressing quality than is found on the earlier Label No. 1.
Even Blue Notes of Label No. 3 can sound good, though their sound quality varies greatly. A clue to this Label's better-sounding disqs is the imprint RVG or VAN GELDER which is found stamped between the last groove and the label, in the lead-out area. This imprint is sometimes found on Label No. 3, and it indicates that the disq was mastered by Dr. Rudy van Gelder. It also indicates that the disq was pressed from an older stamper. Often this stamper has been overused, and its pressing is rough and noisy. Only through playing the record in question can its quality be determined.
Blue Note's new label designs do not seem to have been placed on the new disqs as promptly as Columbia or RCA changed graphics on their new records. Blue Note does not seem to have changed its labels as efficiently as the majors did. I have, for instance, found labels of adjacent periods affixed to the same record. I have recently seen a Sidney Bechet record with Label No. 1b on one side and Label No. 1c on the other. I have also seen Dexter Gordon's Doin' Allright with Label No. 2a on side one and Label No. 2b on side two. I have also seen a later label carelessly glued over an earlier one.
This mixing of labels, however, is not common, and these records are rare. Though oddities, they should command higher prices than the same record with identical labels on both sides.
Blue Note records, particularly Labels No. 1 and No. 2a, are as close to art as the recording process comes.
The 'Blue Note sound' is very much influenced by Rudy van Gelder's recording style. He often gives us a recording and music of a 'blowing session.' The structure of the recording and that of the music is simple. Both provide a basic framework for improvised solos. In the music, the 'tune' or theme is first introduced by the lead soloist. The piece from then on is made up of the players improvising on this theme. Excitement comes largely from the musicians' creative imagination, that is, from the way they improvise their solos. Van Gelder's recording is constructed to best present this. The performance setting is often a smallish one which convincingly portrays musicians playing after hours. As in the music, the recording features the soloists. Van Gelder often places some soloists well forward on the left, with other soloists on the right and forward. The members of the rhythm section are usually placed back and toward the center. This arrangement of musicians serves the music well. This arrangement is very much the signature of Rudy van Gelder, and with it he beautifully captures 'the session.'
Jazz, especially the creating of jazz, is intimately linked with the LP. As an improvisational form, jazz has little written literature. Naturally there are written arrangements, and much jazz follows written or implied progressions. But, jazz's essence, improvisation, is fleeting. Recording, particularly with the LP, has captured this essence and preserved it. Fortunately, many of the most creative forces in jazz recorded regularly, making their work available not only to those who could see and hear them in clubs, but to all who could hear a record. Jazz's movements and changes could be heard through the recording sessions: the LP preserved great solos, compositions and ensembles for all to hear. History then, has chosen the LP as the instrument that has captured jazz's fleeting moments-its essence-improvisation.

I'd like to thank Dennis Davis, Ilya Gofman and David Richardson for their contributions to the Blue Note Labelography.

 

Much of this material originally appeared in "RECOLLECTIONS Journal of Recorded Music." Back issues of the journal are available for US$15.00 at RECOLLECTIONS-by email at ronpenndorf@earthlink.net

My publications can also be found and browsed in the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archive of the New York Public Library, the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound and the Music Department of theChicago Public Library.

 

 

 

 

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