The LP subscription club Vinyl Me, Please and legendary jazz label Blue Note Records recently announced a new collaboration called The Story of Blue Note Records, the centerpiece of which is a 7-LP box set. While its strictly limited 1,000 units sold out almost immediately upon release – sadly before our coverage could go to print – we thought it’d be best to let readers know about the release, should it be pressed again or made available elsewhere.
The first “VMP Anthology” endeavor, The Story of Blue Note Records is a new multimedia project encompassing LP reissues, exclusive podcast programming, and a private online community to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Blue Note. The star of the campaign is a 7-LP box set of remastered albums that span the history of Blue Note, with a limited run of 1,000 copies.
What sets The Story of Blue Note Records apart from other box sets is that it’s meant to be enjoyed as a six-week journey with its contents unveiled over time: think of it as a sequential exploration of six different genres of jazz and six eras of Blue Note’s history, all curated by Blue Note president Don Was. As VMP explains: “Great art takes time. We’re revealing the titles over time to make it easier to slow down and spend time with each record, and truly absorb why Don Was and VMP selected these albums to tell the Blue Note story […] By revealing the records slowly and shipping in installments, we give you space to truly listen and absorb each individual masterpiece, and the opportunity to share your thoughts with others.”
The festivities begin in mid-May, when the first two titles (and a box to fit all six titles) will be sent out to subscribers. The titles for the first phase will be the 1955 Horace Silver compilation Horace Silver Trio and Art Blakey – Sabu, representing bebop; and Dexter Gordon’s 1962 album Dexter Calling…, representing hard bop. The same day, subscribers will gain access to an exclusive four-episode podcast series which will “dive deep into Blue Note’s story [with] extensive interviews with Don Was and VMP’s editorial director.”
In early June, a soul-jazz and a post-bop title will be shipped. Then, in mid-June, the final two installments — a fusion title and modern jazz title — will be released along with an extensive, 12″x12″ booklet featuring a new essay by Grammy-nominated jazz historian Ben Ratliff alongside copious historical photographs.
Each LP is limited to 1000 copies, is foil stamped, and pressed onto 180-gram black vinyl. The first five albums were remastered from the master tapes by Kevin Gray at CoHEARant Audio and pressed at RTI in an all-analog chain. The sixth album, the modern jazz showcase, was remastered from the highest-quality digital source available. The titles will be housed in a deluxe, two-piece, slip-and-slash, satin-finished box emblazoned with the Blue Note 80th Anniversary logo, which will arrive with the first pair of albums.
“A lot of work went into making sure this wasn’t just a collection of albums from Blue Note,” said Vinyl Me, Please editorial director Andrew Winistorfer in a statement. “We take you from Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff–two immigrants obsessed with jazz–deciding to put out Thelonious Monk records to today, when the label is still putting out albums that are moving jazz into unexpected places. The 80 years of Blue Note is an incredible story that led to incredible music, and we tried to capture that.”
While the remaining titles in the series have yet to be announced, if you know your Blue Note album artwork, you may be able to spot what’s on the way! In the meantime, you can find the full track listings for the announced albums below and visit The VMP Anthology website for more information about the series.
Horace Silver Trio, Horace Silver Trio and Art Blakey – Sabu (originally Blue Note LP BLP 1520, 1955 — reissued Blue Note/Vinyl Me Please in The Story of Blue Note Records, 2019)
- Prelude to a Kiss
- Message from Kenya
- How About You?
- I Remember You
- Opus de Funk
- Nothing But the Soul
- Day In, Day Out
Dexter Gordon, Dexter Calling… (originally Blue Note LP BST 84083, 1962 — reissued Blue Note/Vinyl Me Please in The Story of Blue Note Records, 2019)
- Soul Sister
- Modal Mood
- I Want More
- The End of a Love Affair
- Clear the Dex
- Ernie’s Tune