If you’re a jazz aficionado who also happens to have an iPad, you’re in for a treat. The long established Blue Notes records has recently released an iPad app featuring a catalog of its legendary records and artists – content that can be previewed or purchased through the app itself. But the app is more than a record store. It’s a history of a major jazz label that spans seventy years, producing nearly all the greatest jazz artists of all time, from pianist Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, to Grammy Award winner Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson and the Robert Glasper Experiment.
A similar version of the Blue Note app can also be accessed via Spotify’s desktop and mobile apps. This Blue Note app also features a history of the label, interactive timelines and sections that cover all the jazz styles of artists and recordings the label produced from 1939 to the present. Content also includes links to videos, feature reviews, and selected songs reflecting the various styles of jazz that made up the Blue Note label – including traditional jazz, Groove, Art of the Trio, Avant-Garde, Hard Bop, Soul Jazz, Modal Jazz, and Post-Bob Essentials.
Blue Note can be enjoyed two ways – as a free preview app of all its content, or as a $1.99 per month subscription which allows you to stream over a thousand songs featured in the app, in addition to the linked content.
Blue Note is easy to navigate with a simple homepage consisting of graphical table of contents, linking to 27 different sections covering the history of Blue Note, its founder Alfred Lion, a Featured Blue Note Album, and a focus on the the major jazz styles and traditions that established the Blue Note label.
As you browse content, you can add songs and video selections to custom playlists for later viewing. And of course you can share links to content via your Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr accounts.
The right side of the homepage also lists 50 classic Blue Note artists – from Andrew Hill, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, to Stanley Turrentine and Wayne Shorter. Individual artists can be favored and added to playlists for easier access and review.
Artist Bios & News
What’s also very useful about this app are the bios, videos, news, and albums for each of the artists. Sadly, MP3 downloads from say the iTunes or Amazon music stores don’t feature biographical content about artists. This Blue Note app puts lots of linked content all in one place.
The News section for each artist includes links to contemporary articles published in various jazz magazines and blog sites including JazzTimes.com and AllAboutJazz.com.
Blue Note On Spotify
Blue Note on Spotify takes a slightly different approach, featuring an interactive timeline of albums and songs produced on the record label. The app is broken up into three broad sections – Tradition (featuring the classical artists who made the label famous), Groove (a collection of artists like the Robert Glasper Experiment and Madlib, whom mix jazz with with funk and hip-hop) and Voices (jazz and R&B artists like Al Green, Norah Jones, and Bobby McFerrin.)
Content is also broken down by instruments, including guitar, saxophone, keyboards, and bass.
As with other Spotify content, songs and albums can be streamed to your computer.
Blue Note Cover Art
For those who have an appreciation for graphic design and art, the cover art for Blue Note releases was also legendary. Graphic designer Reid Miles produced the sleeves for over 500 LPs starting in 1956. Ironically Miles did not listen to jazz, but based his designs on the concepts and direction of Blue Note founders – Alfred Lion, and Frank Wolff, the latter of whom contributed photos taken during recording sessions of Blue Note artists.
These two multi-media apps provide tons more resources than can be found in any book about the label. Any devoted jazz lover will want to make these apps apart of their music repertoire.
Let us know what you think of the Blue Note apps.