Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes


In the 1950s and ’60s Blue Note Records boasted a roster that included Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, now all larger-than-life figures in the world of jazz. And while many of them recorded for other labels as well, it was with Blue Note that they did their most innovative, most memorable work. Even the cool album covers are considered classics of modern graphic design.

Sophie Huber’s documentary explores what was behind the making of Blue Note. As you might expect, the founders were a couple of infatuated music lovers who insisted that the artists play what was inside them. Not trying to make “hits,” although a few hits did come. Arthur Lion and Frank Wolff, Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany who came to America in the 1930s and discovered jazz, were so taken with the music that they began to record it, just for themselves, before creating the label in 1939. Interviewees like Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Lou Donaldson tell anecdotes about Lion and Wolff, reflecting their deep admiration. This is a story of how sincere devotion to the music resulted in a legacy of African American art that is still an influence on young musicians. A complete delight from beginning to end. —Miguel Pendás

Born in Switzerland and based in New York, Sophie Huber gained her filmmaking experience as a member of an award-winning Berlin-based film collective, for which she co-directed several films. She then went on to direct her debut feature documentary, the critically acclaimed Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction.

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Mira Film GmbH: