Universal launches Blue Note Records Africa to sign jazz artists from across the African continent

Legendary jazz label Blue Note Records and Universal Music Group Africa launched Blue Note Africa.

The new imprint will be dedicated to signing jazz artists from across the African continent.

Blue Note Africa will be launched this spring with the release of the new album by South African pianist and composer Nduduzo Makhathini In the Mind of Ntu.

In 2018, Universal Music Group Africa signed the pianist and composer, a prominent member of the South African jazz scene whose second album UMG Modes of communication: letters from the underworld was jointly released on Blue Note Records.

According to Blue Note, in 1947, legendary American jazz drummer and Blue Note legend Art Blakey visited Africa for the first time, a trip that was supposed to last a few months but took a few years as Blakey went. in Nigeria and Ghana.

Blue Note says the experience had “a profound effect on Blakey both religiously and musically” and led to a series of African percussion-influenced Blue Note albums.

These albums included Rhythm Orgy (1957), Holidays for the skins (1958), and The African Rhythm (1962), the latter featuring traditional African drummers including Solomon Ilori who would release his own album Blue Note The great African life in 1963.

Around the same time, in the late 1950s, a jazz scene began to develop in South Africa, led by The Jazz Epistles, a group inspired by American jazz bands including Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, which included trumpeter Hugh Masekela and pianist Dollar Brand (later known as Abdallah Ibrahim).

As apartheid restrictions, censorship and violence worsened in the early 1960s, Masekela and Ibrahim left the country and became global ambassadors for South African jazz.

Pianist McCoy Tyner further explored African-American relationships on his late ’60s and early ’70s Blue Note albums with tracks like African village, Message from the Nileand Asante.

In 2008, Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke released Karibu, the first of several Blue Note albums that blended the sound of two continents.

“African music has been a major creative tributary for nearly every album in Blue Note’s extensive catalog.”

Don was, blue note

“African music has been a major creative contributor to almost every album in Blue Note’s extensive catalog,” said Blue Note President Don Was.

“It is therefore a great honor for us to partner with Sipho and his talented team Universal Music Africa in this new endeavor. Together we will shine a light on the incredible music emanating from Africa today.

Sipho DlaminiUniversal Music

“Blue Note has stood the test of time by continuing to adapt but focusing on discovering and introducing jazz talent to the world.”

Sipho Dlamini, Universal Music Africa

Sipho Dlamini, CEO of Universal Music Africa, added, “Blue Note has stood the test of time by continuing to adapt but focusing on discovering and introducing jazz talent to the world.

“The opportunity to create Blue Note Africa and provide a channel for African jazz talent to have a home in the United States, with a dedicated and passionate team led by a legend in his own right – Don Was, is very exciting. We we can now travel the journey of African jazz, from Cape Town to Cairo via California.

The music industry around the world

Ada J. Kenney