For years, Blue Note Records has been considered the leader in traditional jazz. Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane recorded some of their best music for the label. Today, Blue Note still produces the finest in classic jazz. But now, their best-selling releases feature a new crop of cutting-edge musicians.
In the 1980s when sales of jazz albums were close to an all-time low, Capitol Records re-launched Blue Note with an emphasis on contemporary jazz. What used to be the label's dominant sound, now sounds much different.
A new jazz trio Martin, Medeski and Wood with "Big Time" from "The Dropper" appear on the new Blue Note compilation "One Label Under A Groove." Keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin and bassist Chris Wood are among the new generation of artists to combine hip-hop, soul and dance music with traditional jazz. Critics are calling it "fusion funk," "acid jazz" and "avante-garde groove."
Guitarist Charlie Hunter finds the groove with "Two For Bleu." Born in Rhode Island, and raised in Berkeley, California, Charlie Hunter describes his music as "antacid jazz," believing that acid jazz was an inaccurate label. He now lives in New York where he performs with his quartet "Pound For Pound."
Blue Note Records couldn't be happier with this new blending of classic and contemporary jazz. Blue Note General Manager Tom Evered says, "These artists are bringing in an enormous amount of interest, but it still comes out of a jazz and improvisational base." Newcomers Soulive, for example, may look and sound different than the famed Jimmy Smith organ trio, but their music can easily be traced to Smith's modern orchestration.
Soulive features drummer Alan Evans, his brother Neal on the Hammond B-3 organ and Eric Krasno on guitar. The trio is noted for its rhythmic mix of hip-hop, soul, funk and rock. Oh yes, and a little jazz thrown in for good measure.
Also featured on Blue Note's new collection of jazz funk "One Label Under A Groove" is the Karl Denson group with "Who Are You?"