Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes

A Story about People who followed their Passion

Director's Note

The story of Blue Note spans over eight decades and includes about a thousand records. Behind each record is a human being, an expression of our time.

Through the film I would like to transmit the depth of the music – of human expression – and how affecting and necessary it is.

In an era where racism and xenophobia are dangerously present, it is particularly important to tell the story about this consequential collaboration between African American artists and the German Jewish immigrants who recorded them. The legacy they built together continues to inspire across generations and genres, including hip hop.

As one of the young musicians says about the iconic artists of the past: “Never at a point do I hear the music and hear them being defeated. Regardless of what they were fighting with, they’re going down in history creating something that influenced my life in a way where I felt freedom. Where it brought me joy, where it made me wanna write music that gave people hope”.

What moves me particularly about the Blue Note story is that throughout the testing time of its existence, a core of humanity and integrity has always remained: This is a story about people who followed their passion and - against all odds - built a lasting platform for a music they loved, a music that was cathartic for them, that represented freedom, both to the German Jewish founders and to the African American musicians. The founders’ vision is still palpable today, with Don Was as Blue Note’s president and a new generation of very talented young musicians that continues to move the music forward, leaving their own imprints.

As Herbie Hancock says, jazz reflects American history and human values such as democracy, tolerance, the search for the new and the risks that go with it. It is moving to me how this philosophy has been passed to the young musicians as well and how they aspire to make a difference that goes beyond music.

My goal was to extend this quest onto the screen and let the film be a platform for this incredibly powerful music and these much needed voices that promote unity and humanity and inspire hope.

A Story about People who followed their Passion