Almost every era of jazz has its resident Blue Note crew: artists who embody the beating heart of that label’s sound.
Think of the 1950s, and you might picture names like Art Blakey and Lou Donaldson. In the ‘60s, you’d turn to the likes of Freddie Hubbard and Tony Williams.
At this juncture, the roster would have to include keyboardist Robert Glasper, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and guitarist Lionel Loueke — all members of an aggregate called the Blue Note All-Stars, along with saxophonist Marcus Strickland, bassist Derrick Hodge, and drummer Kendrick Scott. The label has just announced this group’s debut album, Our Point of View.
Due out on Sept. 29, it will feature at least one composition by each member of the band — including a pair of tributes to Blue Note’s former president, Bruce Lundvall, who died in 2015. (The opening track is “Bruce’s Vibe,” by Glasper; the closer is “Bruce The Last Dinosaur,” by Akinmusire.) The album, coproduced by Glasper and current label president Don Was, also features heavyweight cameos by saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Herbie Hancock, on a version of Shorter’s “Masqualero.”
Here is the lead single, a Hodge invention called “Second Light,” which can now be purchased digitally, or downloaded with a pre-order of the album.
If the idea of the Blue Note All-Stars rings familiar, it may be that you remember one of the label’s other recent forays into self-commemoration. Not quite a decade ago, when the label was celebrating its 70th anniversary, a touring package called the Blue Note 7 barnstormed the country, eventually releasing an album called Mosaic. (The straw boss of that group was pianist Bill Charlap, who now records for Impulse!)
Or you may be remembering New Directions, a group led by alto saxophonist Greg Osby, whose members included the young Blue Note arrivals of the late-‘90s, including vibraphonist Stefon Harris, pianist Jason Moran and tenor saxophonist Mark Shim (with a rhythm team that would shortly join Moran as the Bandwagon).
There’s another possibility: perhaps you recall an episode of Jazz Night in America that featured this very group, Our Point of View. If you haven’t heard it, now is your chance. Recorded two years ago at Le Poisson Rouge in New York, the episode provides a window onto this inspired convergence of talent — and it’s your best bet for an early taste of what the new album might be all about.
For more information about the Blue Note All-Stars, visit the label website.