Blue Note Review Is a Biannual Limited Edition Luxury Box Set Subscription Series

Just going to reproduce much of the press release this time:

Blue Note Records introduces Blue Note Review: Volume One - Peace, Love & Fishing, the inaugural edition of a stunning new biannual, limited edition, luxury boxset subscription series that encapsulates the storied past and auspicious future of the legendary jazz label. The beautifully curated collector's item is a limited production of 1,500 sets, and is available to order today for $200 exclusively at Watch an unboxing video of the Blue Note Review set at that URL.

The foundation of each Blue Note Review is and will remain the music: The Finest In Jazz Since 1939. Each set will contain a collection of new recordings from Blue Note’s current roster plus a timeless treasure from the Blue Note vaults, representing the unique continuum of jazz, a music where innovation is always built upon what’s come before, yet a restlessly creative artform with improvisation and reinvention at its core. And so, bucking the digital trend in music, the Blue Note Review aims to provide the ultimate jazz experience, a physical extension of the enduringly hip Blue Note aesthetic to adorn the ears, eyes, mind, and neck. The new music within will only be available in the Review, it won’t be found on streaming services or digital download sites, and none of the items contained in the set will be sold separately.

“The digital transformation of the music business has made great strides in terms of convenience, but we’ve lost so much along the way,” explains Blue Note President Don Was, who conceived of the Blue Note Review and serves as it’s Publisher. “For so many of us, Blue Note has always represented a particular sensibility and a culture of cool. Blue Note Review is our great effort to restore some of that culture, and to re-create that tangible, multi-sensory experience. This has been a labor of love for everyone involved, and we couldn’t be more proud to introduce the Blue Note Review to jazz lovers worldwide.”

Included in Blue Note Review: Volume One - Peace, Love & Fishing are: A 2-LP, 180g vinyl double album (2-CD set also included) of new & previously unreleased recordings by current Blue Note artists including Wayne Shorter Quartet, Charles Lloyd & The Marvels, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Gregory Porter, Kandace Springs, Terence Blanchard, Derrick Hodge, and Blue Note All-Stars featuring Ambrose Akinmusire, Robert Glasper, Derrick Hodge, Lionel Loueke, Kendrick Scott, and Marcus Strickland.

A 180g vinyl reissue of the previously out-of-print rare classic catalog album Step Lightly by trumpeter Blue Mitchell, recorded in 1963 with Joe Henderson, Leo Wright, Herbie Hancock, Gene Taylor, and Roy Brooks, and featuring liner notes by Michael Cuscuna.

Two never-before-released Francis Wolff 12x12 lithographs of Wayne Shorter and Stanley Turrentine.

An exclusive John Varvatos-designed Blue Note scarf.

A “Jazz Is Not A Crime” turntable mat conceived by Ryan Adams.

A lifestyle zine featuring a fascinating collection of articles and musings including: a foreword by spiritual teacher and author Ram Dass, a poem by Jack Grapes, a conversation between Wayne Shorter and actor/comedian/jazz fanatic Jeff Garlin, an eloquent elegy for the late drummer Billy Higgins written by Charles Lloyd, and a true-to-life comic drawn by Keith Henry Brown about an encounter between Stanley Turrentine and Blue Note founder Alfred Lion as told in the words of Bobby Hutcherson.

Who mastered and from what source and where this is being pressed is not among the information the press release provides but I did find out that the Step Lightly was cut by Ron McMaster from the original master tapes and that Bernie Grundman cut the double LP of new recordings from the "original masters", which were most likely digital recordings.

fetuso's picture

I would have to conclude that these are being pressed from digital files. If they were doing these AAA they would be screaming it from the rafters. I dabbled with a couple of BN's 75th anniversary vinyl reissues and I felt those were poorly done. This seems like another attempt to monetize the catalog; nothing wrong with that, but do it right.

Michael Fremer's picture
Read the re-edited piece..
isaacrivera's picture

Still the added value stuff seems like a desperate attempt at attracting some demographic that needs glitter more than music. But if the reissues are analog where available that is something worth the price tag.

cdlp4578's picture

Although the mastering on a lot of those BN 75th releases is questionable, the bigger sin is the quality of the LP pressings themselves.

For my purposes a digital mastering is OK, but the Elemental pressings from Spain are of better quality than the US BN 75th pressings even though I'm finding the Elementals for a few dollars less than the BN 75ths. Granted, what I'm finding is probably dumped overstock, but the ONLY question on the Elementals is the mastering source whereas the US BN 75ths make me wonder about more than just that.

fetuso's picture

Yep, I had several that I returned because they were warped.

isaacrivera's picture

They are mastered from a CD. Europe has 50 year copyright expiration, look at the tittles. Likely they are all 50+ years old, at which point they are in the public domain. They are free to use any comercial CD as master, which is exactly what they do. Which is why they can be cheaper. Get a CD, save a generation, even more $, and do not contribute to flooding the market with cheap reissues that prevent quality ones becoming a reality. Btw, those are not supposed to be sold in the USA where those works are still copyrighted, but they find their way...

cdlp4578's picture

It is easy to confuse European reissue labels. Elemental seems different than others like Wax Time, DOL, Doxy, etc. - they claim to be licensing the titles they are reissuing and the pressing quality is high.

One of the tell-tale signs of the public domain reissues you allude to is the fact that the music is public domain in Europe but the artwork is not, so the p.d. reissues substitute the original album covers with different artwork.

If I was paying $35+, you're damn right I want to know the full sourcing, but I don't expect that when serendipitously buying at $12.

isaacrivera's picture

In their Jazz catalog is 1967 or before... Hmmm. There is no way at $12 they are paying licensing fees when they don't have too. Perhaps for the couple of post 1967 albums to be able to make that statement. The pressing quality of Wax Time and Juno Records is very high as well and they are CDs on vinyl AND more expensive than $12. They are just flooding the market with cheap vinyl CDs.

cdlp4578's picture

They aren't making mastering claims. Overstock is a fact of life. I have a good idea what it is I'm buying, if you don't want 'em don't buy 'em. I don't pretend that it sounds better than a CD, I just want my preferred format is all.

isaacrivera's picture

I was just shedding some light on the label, which you seemed to be wishful thinking about. And the problem is not overstock, btw. The problem is while these firms flood the market with cheap reissues they prevent quality firms from taking on those titles-ironically, keeping the price of good reissues high. But, you seem to be aware they are inferior sounding, black market knock offs. So by all means, collect away.

Michael Fremer's picture
Get the Music Matters and Analogue Productions Blue Note reissues.
isaacrivera's picture

If instead of a stupid scarf and useless record mat they simply guaranteed AAA pressings. So much anti-digital blah, blah, blah to do digitize the masters. 3 AAA LPs for $200 should be profitable and they have the resources to do it. Shame.

Michael Fremer's picture
Where possible it is AAA but the compilations of newer material originally recorded digitally will obviously be digitally sourced.
isaacrivera's picture

That Step Lightly is a 1980 Rudy Van Gelder Studio recording. The source should be analog.

Grant M's picture

Actually the session was recorded on August 13, 1963. It's one of those tapes that wasn't released until years later, until the Liberty era.

kozakjj's picture

I also am not happy with most of the vinyl today being cut from a hi-res digital file. It's like the 80's now the coasters are bigger and mad of vinyl. This is the resurgence Of Digital Vinyl not analogue happiness. It is a real shame.

seanote's picture

I read with interest the comments concerning vinyl discs being so misleading. I am especially interested in the reissue of the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series 1-3 offered by companies liked Music Direct. Are these cut from the original master tapes or are they just cd pressings? I am new to this so please excuse any errors on my part.

Michael Fremer's picture
Are available from Music Matters and Analogue Productions.
Anton D's picture

Now this.

I signed up and look forward to seeing what up.

Thanks for the heads up.

Again, you should get a finder's fee.

The Berlin Philharmonic has been a source of controversy at my wine and Hi Fi site. Some hate Rattle, others, not!

784533rpm's picture


isaacrivera's picture

Thanks for the tip. Ordered it right away.

Bluejimbop's picture

According to a representative I spoke with at the Blue Note tent at MJF, the Review boxes and all BN vinyl going forward will be pressed at RTI. She acknowledged they'd had "some issues" with United. She was both nice and pretty, so it's gotta be true.

Grant M's picture

Blue Note replied to this question on Facebook, and also said RTI pressed the reissue

wgb113's picture

Michael - is there any talk within the industry about bringing back the SPARS code and perhaps updating it in the case of the improvements in digital?

It seems that now more than ever we would benefit from this sort of system for both analog and digital media.

Michael Fremer's picture
Yes, I brought that up at the "Making Vinyl" event and the response was enthusiastic.
Hackmartian's picture

I loved this until I hit the John Varvatos jazz-scarf (seriously...a scarf???) and that mat's nonsensical, empty, tone-deaf slogan.

Bluejimbop's picture

God, calm down you guys. John Varvatos is a name in the fashion world. I've seen the scarf and I dig it - tastefully done. Us old-timers would do well to think outside the, ahem, box every now and then. I can't help but wonder if a lot of the Internet hue & cry about this is from dudes whose fashion sense is flyin' the flannel.

Hackmartian's picture

I don't think it's a matter of whether the scarf is a nice scarf, or anything to do with a refusal to think outside the box (after all, Pink Floyd included a scarf in the Dark Side Of The Moon box set for some reason, so this idea isn't even original). It's more that a designer scarf seems like a forced gimmick, and not a natural extension of the music celebrated by this set. Don Was loves scarves—it's hard to find a photo of him without one—so I'm sure the idea of getting one made for Blue Note's biggest fans felt like a natural fit. And, likewise, Ryan Adams is pretty damn cool and Blue Note distributes his records, so using his nonsensical, ironic slogan on the mat probably made sense to Was, too. But the money those pieces cost could pay for any number of other things that might enhance the legend of the label or connected on some wonderful new level for fans.

isaacrivera's picture

Nothing against scarves or anything else, just the arbitrariness of it as part of an LP box. If I want a Varvatos accessory, I know where to get it. Seems like an attempt to get a particular demographic interested in the box, not for the music itself. Could the box be more attractive without mat and scarf for $30 less?

Bluejimbop's picture

I had y'all down for Robert Glasper sneakers on my Christmas list. Now I'm back to zero. ;-)

matt1234's picture

I'd be more than up for an US3 reissue + a similar, new project in a set. Hold the scarf please. until then, I'll just keep kicking myself for not ponying up for the Music Matters subscription.

Michael Fremer's picture
Their catalog is still filled with great BN reissues
acceler8's picture

I signed up to post, just for this topic.
I have just received my Blue Note Review box set (number 28 for those playing at home.) To my (admittedly wooden) ears, it sounds amazing! Regardless of the source (which I would in fact prefer to be AAA) I am happy. Regarding the scarf drama, I can see both side of the debate. To some extent, I belive it (and the slip mat) are packing fodder used to justify the price. On the other hand, as a collector, I do love random items in my box sets! Just like the marbles in the The Wall - Immersion box set, I see the scarf and slip-mat as bonus items that can only be included in a proper box. Like the marbles, I'll never use the scarf. But it makes me happy, just knowing it is there (as I sit with a smile listening to side 3 of Peace Love & Fishing.)

Charles1966's picture

I had an occasion to hear how the thing works a few days ago. I've got to admit that the Blue Note sounds truly amazing. The price is not that bad - all in all you're paying for quality, and it's currently one of the best of its kind available on the market.