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Blue Note Records Beyond the Notes Movie Review

Hits All the Right Notes

It took me a very long time to understand that jazz wasn't meandering and boring. At some point I came around enough to at least appreciate it and even really like some of it, although I remain very far from an aficionado.

Blue Note Records is an American jazz record label established in 1939 by Alfed Lion and Max Margulis, two German-Jewish immigrants. At its outset the label was dedicated to recording traditional jazz and small group swing, but in 1947 they switched their attention to modern jazz.


Blue Note was home for Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. Hancock and Shorter are interviewed in the film. The label has also released works by Miles Davis, Sidney Bechet and John Coltrane and many others.

Sophie Huber's documentary "Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes" originally seen at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, is a love letter to the label and to jazz itself and it is loaded with great performances and fascinating interviews with those that lived through it and look back fondly at its history.

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Huber traces the history of the label to the hip-hop of today, with the aid of Terrace Martin and A Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed Muhammad. They explain how the music of Blue Note is a path to the music they make today.

I could go into loads of the details in the film, but it would be pointless. While it's certainly informative, mostly it's a joy to watch. Great music and interesting people relating excellent inside stuff. This is a sit back, relax, and enjoy affair.


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