Blue Note is one of the most important jazz labels for their recordings in the 1960s and 70s. Vintage post-bop, soul jazz, funky groove, modern and experimental to post-modern, you name it and they probably did it first. On top of this, their multi-volume double-album or CD “Blue Note Trip” compilation series started in the noughties is also one reason that jazz is still going strong, for a younger generation, and not to mention New York’s Blue Note jazz club, with its franchise around Europe, in Monaco, Milano, and Slovakia (Nove Mesto and Vahom), as well as two in Japan and in China, etc.
So it is always with much anticipation and high expectations when one comes across new Blue Note releases, supporting the now generation, and this is the case with the alto saxophonist and flutist Logan Richardson and his group SHIFT.
On the YouTube album trailer for “Shift” (released in 2016), Richardson says, “Shift is a movement. Obviously due to the name itself. Shift means to shift, which means we’re not staying in the same place. Meaning we’re still moving forward, we have forward motion. We’re not stagnant….”
Richardson is articulate for his age (born in 1980 and raised in Kansas City, Missouri) and extremely knowledgeable about the history of jazz; like Wynton Marsalis, he could be a spokesperson for the newer generation of African-American jazz men and women. However, talking the talk is not enough for jazz history.
An archived audio interview from the 1960s found online of jazz critic Leonard Feather and Eric Dolphy underlines a genius saxophonist and flutist’s struggle to explain in layman’s terms, how he creates his singularly-formed and unmistakable sound. In contrast, just as Richardson is clearer in explaining his music’s intention, his sound comes off as too smooth for our currently troubled times.
There is a contagious warmness to the sound on vintage Blue Note Records that the newer Blue Note recording artists seem to strive for, but fall short, possibly due to digital recordings itself. It certainly is not that any talent, ability or will is lacking. It is just that the stark difference is there, let’s face it. Let’s also thank goodness that the apparently bottomless Blue Note and Capitol Records archives (on EMI) keep being plunged for reissues from its heyday. Jazz could die eventually, without it.
Meanwhile, Blue Note’s roster of musicians (especially the newer ones) strives to ensure that the irrepressible warmness of sound (i.e. “the Blue Note sound”) lives on in their live performances.
Logan Richardson with his group SHIFT featuring Tony Tixier on piano, Joe Sanders on bass, and Ryan Lee on drums have a short tour in Europe till the end of March.
March 23, Thursday—Jazz Dock, Prague, Czech Republic
March 24, Friday—Jazzclub Unterfahrt, Munich, Germany
March 25, Saturday—Leuven Jazz Festival, Leuven, Belgium
March 26, Sunday—Il Cantiere, Rome, Italy
March 27, Monday—Porgy & Bess, Vienna, Austria
March 29, Wednesday—Panic Jazz Club, Marostica, Italy,