Blue Note Records' anniversary jazz tour coming to Missouri Theatre

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 3:29 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The Blue Note 7 will perform Thursday night at the Missouri Theatre as part of a 51-city tour honoring the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records, one of jazz's oldest labels. The septet includes, from left: tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane (son of John Coltrane), drummer Lewis Nash, pianist and musical director Bill Charlap, guitarist Peter Bernstein, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, bassist Peter Washington and alto saxophonist and flautist Steve Wilson.

COLUMBIA — Seven jazz artists will return to Columbia this week as part of the 70th anniversary tour for one of jazz's oldest and most storied record labels. The Blue Note 7 will perform at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts on Thursday as part of a 51-city tour celebrating the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records.

"The Blue Note record label is iconic in American recording music," said Michael Pagán, assistant director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. "It is iconic because of the way that the people who worked at that company documented the history and evolution of jazz music."

If you go

What: Blue Note "70th Anniversary Tour" presented by the "We Always Swing" Jazz Series.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, 203 S. Ninth St.

Admission: Depending on location of seats, tickets are $28 or $32 for the general public and $18 for students. There is a $5 discount for members of the Missouri Symphony Society, Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts and MU employees, among other groups; ask about discounts when calling for tickets. Call the Jazz Series at 449-3001 for tickets and other information.

Jon Poses, director of the "We Always Swing" Jazz Series, which is bringing in The Blue Note 7, said the ensemble has "seven of today's top jazz musicians," including: pianist and musical director Bill Charlap, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane (son of the late jazz great John Coltrane), alto saxophonist and flutist Steve Wilson, guitarist Peter Bernstein, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash.

Each of these artists has performed in Columbia as part of the Jazz Series. Bill Charlap visited Columbia most recently, in November 2007.

The record label was started in 1939 by German immigrant Alfred Lion. He was joined later that year by his childhood friend Francis Wolff. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Lion and Wolff recorded the likes of Fats Navarro, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins, among others.

The label went dormant from lack of organization in the early 1980s but was relaunched by EMI in February of 1985, according to the label's Web site: Adding some context, Pagán said he thinks jazz as a genre went into a lull during the '70s, '80s and '90s.

Today, Pagán said, Blue Note Records is once again a leader in championing jazz.

Poses said Thursday's performance will be an exceptional opportunity to hear "modern interpretations of classical Blue Note material."

Blue Note Records has also released a new album, "Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Recordings," to celebrate the anniversary.

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