As Lion’s behind-the-scenes partner, Francis Wolff is best known for his iconic candid photographs of Blue Note musicians, usually captured during recording sessions. Wolff’s sensitive and evocative images were significant to Blue Note’s marketing strategy, creating a branded identity of jazz as hip and cool. The use of Wolff’s photos as album cover graphics also broke through a racially-stereotyped portrayal of the African-American jazz musician that had predominated the media during the first half of the twentieth century.
The images in the exhibition, curated by Michael Cuscuna and Tom Evered, are from what is acknowledged as Blue Note's golden years of jazz recording. No other jazz label combined such inspired and impeccable musicianship with such distinctive photography and cover design. Francis Wolff’s photographs capture the instant of creative inspiration of some jazz music’s great geniuses.
Opening Reception will feature curators Michael Cuscuna and Tom Evered. Followed by a concert with Jason Moran (pianist), the Kennedy Center’s Artistic Advisor for Jazz and current Blue Note Records artist.
The exhibition can be viewed until July 3: Mon - Thu 9 am -5 pm & Fri 9 am - 3pm
Blue Note Records celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2014. Its roots lie in Berlin, where Alfred Lion, a teenager in the thrall of swing music, met Francis (Frank) Wolff, a young photographer with similar musical interests, in 1924. Their mutual love of American jazz fed a strong friendship. Both men moved to New York in the 1930s, where Blue Note Records was born in 1939.
Through Blue Note Records, Lion and Wolff helped shape the world’s musical, social and cultural direction from the mid- to the late-twentieth century. Today a new generation of jazz aficionados has rediscovered Blue Note, with many of Lion’s vintage recordings enjoying recent reissues. As Herbie Hancock recalled on learning of Alfred’s death: “He was a German, from the old school, who had a gift, a real insight into the qualities that the great black artists of his day were exhibiting. The world of music won't be the same without him - I don't suppose we'll ever see his like again.”
When & Where
The Goethe-Institut Washington organizes and supports cultural events that present German culture abroad and that further intercultural exchange.