Blue Note Records: The Biography (5)

In the early 19-fifties, when releasing an increasing number of jazz records,  Alfred Lion and Frank Wolff laid down the fundamentals for what was going to be the Blue Note trademark. First they moved gradually from the New York WOR Studio’s to Rudy van Gelder’s home studio in Hackensack after Lion heard a recording of saxophonist  Gil Melle which was engineered by van Gelder. They also started to hire designers to change the industry habit of using uniform and functional record covers. Especially the photography of Wolff played an important role. Rather then photographing musicians in a posed setting, he made pictures while the musicians were recording, grabbing their emotions and expressions and using his sensivity to light and dark. Another aspect of Lion’s approach as a recording producer was his insistence on having musicians rehearse before recording. He paid for the rehearsels as he was convinced that excellent ensemble playing was the key to succes. In 1953 Blue Note made a next step by assigning trumpettist Clifford Brown who was in his early twenties by then and had an amazing talent which even blew Dizzy Gillespie away when he first heard Brown playing. One of the recordings that Lion made was Brown’s composition  “Brownie Speaks” in which the three choruses played by Brown show his unique style, sound and phrasing.

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