The Cultural Diversity Center and Male Initiative Program held “The Blue Note Sound” jazz show that celebrated the 75th anniversary of The Blue Note record label on March 24. The event, was held in the lobby of the Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center at York College in Jamaica.
Blue Note has been one of the most innovative record companies since its inception in 1939 in midtown Manhattan. The record label has helped produce and create classic jazz music of the golden era, beginning in the 1940’s, all the way to the 2000’s. Blue Note was also been responsible for starting the careers of several jazz legends including Freddie Hubbard, Horace Silver and Jimmy Smith. The selection of music was delightful. The band played hits from 1960’s, like living legend Wayne Shorter’s classic “See No Evil” and Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” but also remembered to embrace modern jazz.
Senior academic advisor Sean White, a soprano saxophone player for the Epistrophy Ensemble in Queens, said Blue Note records was unique for its time.
“What set it apart from other record labels is that they allowed the musicians to be involved in the creative process,” White said. “Much more so than a lot of other record labels. The artist were getting paid rehearsals which was unheard of.”
The Epistrophy Ensemble, a collection of Jamaica, Queens musicians who gathered through teaching and gigs, also attended to honor the historic record label. Together they performed two hours of classics. Most notably was Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder” and Horace Silver’s “Song For My Father.” The band worked well together and most importantly they looked like they were having fun. Every band member had their time to shine, getting solos that showed off their strengths. The most memorable being Carl Bartlett on the alto saxophone during a passionate, soulful rendition John Coltrane’s “Lazy Bird” that drew applause from the crowd.
The atmosphere was intimate and comfortable. The audience showed up in large numbers, nearly filling up all the seats. The audience was made up of people of all ages ranging from the elderly to young kids, displaying jazz’s universal appeal and resilience through the decades. Blue Note artists seemed to be a great testament to the genre as their masterful collection of music seems to have withstood the test of time.
“Jazz gets a bad rep but there’s so many different types,” said Jamiek Potter. “There’s happy jazz, late night romantic jazz, the beauty of it is each time you hear it its different.” Potter, plays the trumpet and flugel horn. He began playing the trumpet in church at an early age and later joined Epistrophy Ensemble when he and bonded over jazz with other group members.
While Jazz may not top Billboard magazine’s list anytime soon given the shift to pop and hip hop over the last three decades, the listeners were reminded of jazz’s influence on modern music as the concert continued. For anyone who thinks jazz is just for old timers and grandparents go through Blue Notes discography and prepare to be enlightened.
“People often think of jazz as something from the past but its very modern and contemporary and it always has been. So much of the music people listen to now are highly influenced by jazz in some way or another, thats why young people should give jazz a chance,” Sean White said.
The Epistrophy Ensemble doesn’t have any future events schedule as of yet but the plan is to continue to celebrate Blue Notes undoubtable influence on jazz on an annual basis for years to come.