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Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes
by Mary Nyiri

Sophie Huber, USA/Switzerland

Two German-Jewish refugees, Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, made their new home in New York City where they embraced the local jazz culture. So much so that in 1939 they founded Blue Note Records to record the music that was their passion. Rather than try to record music that could easily be sold or might appeal to a larger audience, Lion and Wolff allowed their recording artists total freedom. Recordings were not always met with critical acclaim when released. For instance, Thelonious Monk was criticized as too far out of the main stream, but his 1947 release Round Midnight is now a classic.

Wolff filmed and photographed recording sessions, keeping meticulous records that form the history of legends. Selections from the thousands of photographs and recordings combined with interviews past and present weave the colorful story of jazz artists and styles from the past to its influence on other genres like hip-hop. Not just for jazz lovers, this film will leave you with a lingering tune and tapping toes.