New York (NY), USA – Throughout the fall and winter of 2006, the Blue Note Jazz Club will celebrate its 25th Anniversary with the friends and artists who have helped maintain the venue’s status as the world’s finest jazz club and restaurant.
For the last twenty-five years, the Blue Note name has been synonymous with top-notch jazz, an inviting atmosphere, and fantastic food. Boasting clubs in Milan, Italy; Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka in Japan; and in Manhattan’s historic Greenwich Village, Blue Note has played host to the music’s greatest names and continues to carry the torch for jazz into the 21st century.
When Blue Note opened back in 1981, jazz was considered a dying art form, as clubs were disappearing all over New York City. To describe restaurateur and businessman Danny Bensusan’s idea to open a jazz club in the West Village of Manhattan at that time as “audacious” would have been an understatement. The major acts that had once filled clubs on 52nd St. and elsewhere during jazz’s hey-day opted to play at festivals and concert halls over the jazz clubs, which were quickly becoming obsolete.
Enter Blue Note – where the concept was different than any other club in the city. Blue Note’s primary goal was to bring the big names back into a jazz club with an intimate setting where interaction between the artist and the crowd was close and comfortable. In addition, Blue Note sought to replace the typical underground, dingy jazz clubs of the time with a modern, supper-club style venue.
From the start, the likes of Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughn, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Hartman, Billy Eckstine, Tito Puente, Lionel Hampton, Ray Brown, George Benson, and countless other legends flocked to Blue Note’s stage, many of them returning to a club for the first time in decades.
These artists and many more came back again and again to perform at the club, not only because of the large crowds that lined up at the door to see them, but because of the feeling that when they played Blue Note, they were home.
There’s an indescribable, almost magical feeling when one sees a show at Blue Note. What makes Blue Note so special – beyond its historical significance to the music and New York City – comes from the notion that on a given night, anything can happen. Over the years, patrons have witnessed the likes of Stevie Wonder come on stage for an impromptu serenade, Bill Cosby run up to announce the band, and Tony Bennett sit in the audience to watch his favorite performers, and so much more. It’s been a hang out for legends like Dizzy Gillespie and Ray Charles.
Pop legends such as Sting and Billy Joel have come to pay their respects to Blue Note to join their favorite jazz musicians on stage. The result is an entire audience who could say “I was at Blue Note when…” and patrons keep coming back to see what might happen on any given night.
After twenty-five years, Blue Note has become a cultural institution of New York City, and has supported and educated the community since its inception. Blue Note’s worldwide presence has contributed to the city’s tourism, bringing in jazz fans from Asia, Europe and South America. Its success can be attributed to Danny Bensusan, who has worked tirelessly with his family and staff to build jazz’s most famous franchise, Blue Note International.
During Blue Note New York’s 7th anniversary year, the dream of a Blue Note in Tokyo came to fruition through Blue Note International, with legendary vocalist Tony Bennett as the first week’s act. Following Tokyo’s success, Blue Note Osaka was opened in 1990 followed by Blue Note Nagoya in 2002, satisfying the need for jazz clubs in Japan.
Blue Note added a list of festivals in Japan and cruises around the world to its growing list of accomplishments. In 2003, the franchise opened Blue Note Milan in Italy, bringing the Blue Note name to an astonishing total of three continents.
In addition to the big names and acts that come through the club as performers and fans, Blue Note has opened its doors to the emerging jazz artists of New York City with the Monday Night series. This series has turned into a new “scene,” giving up-and-coming jazz artists a chance to perform on a stage graced by jazz’s biggest names. Monday Night’s are living proof that jazz is alive and well, and Blue Note believes that supporting the music’s progression will keep it that way.
Jazz has changed shape and form since its inception, taking on elements of rock, funk, dance, and hip-hop music over the years. To remain on the cutting edge, Blue Note launched the Late Night Groove Series, featuring soul, hip-hop, R&B, and funk artists twice a week. While the series has remained true to jazz tradition by ensuring improvisation, the house is always packed with fans of all genres of music.
Perhaps even more importantly, Blue Note has dedicated itself to the education of its patrons. In 2004, the venue furthered its commitment to enrich and educate by initiating its Master Classes. Master Classes allow the public to engage and interact with a master artist and learn from that artist about his or her own music as well as about composition, artistry and musicianship.
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Blue Note has invited its must loyal and popular artists to perform. The anniversary is a tribute not only to the history of the club, but also to the jazz musicians who once graced the stage with their presence and have passed on.
For more information visit: http://www.bluenote.net/newyork/index.shtml.
Author: World Music Central News Department
World music news from the editors at World Music Central