Barack Obama’s Jazz by Artist JC Pagán

Nothing excites and inspires us more at Skoolwerk Apparel than Blue Note recordings and Blue Note album covers.  Now add the 1st African American President of The United States to that mix and what you have is Barack Obama’s Jazz, a collection of Blue Note inspired album covers recreated by artist JC Pagán.   Pagán’s graphic inspiration comes from the original Blue Note albums originally created by Blue Note graphic designer Reid Miles. Barack Obama’s Jazz celebrates the President’s love for jazz as well as his undeniable “cool factor.”   Artist JC Pagán’s love and passion for jazz and Blue Note album art  shines through in his recreations.  His series is wonderful and is truly steeped in the spirit of Blue Note Records past and present.

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INDESTRUCTIBLE by Barack Obama and The Jazz Messengers inspired by drummer Art Blakey’s Blue Note album cover Indestructible recorded in 1964.

The Prisoner

“THE PRESIDENT” inspired by pianist Herbie Hancock’s Blue Note album cover The Prisoner recorded in 1969.

The Incredible Barack Obama

“BACK AT THE WHITE HOUSE” inspired by Jimmy Smith’s Blue Note album cover Back at The Chicken Shack  recorded in 1960 and released in 1963.

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“NO ROOM FOR SQUARES” inspired by saxophonist Hank Mobley’s Blue Note album cover No Room For Squares  recorded in 1963.

Forward Radio

“FORWARD RADIO” inspired by pianist Robert Glasper’s Blue Note album cover Black Radio recorded in 2012.

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“THE REAL MCCOY” inspired by pianist McCoy Tyner’s Blue Note album cover The Real McCoy  released in 1967.

To view the entire Barack Obama’s Jazz Series you can visit Barack Obama’s Jazz on Facebook.

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Blue Note – A Story Of Modern Jazz Documentary [Full Length]

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Blue Note – A Story Of Modern Jazz is one of my favorite documentaries. I remember getting this documentary on VHS as part of a “free with purchase” promotion at Borders Books & Music.  It was circa 1997 and when I had purchased a Blue Note CD the VHS was a freebie. I was mainly after Horace Silver’s Song For My Father on CD. At the time of purchase I had no idea that I was taking home what turned out to be this priceless documentary about the history of one of the greatest jazz record labels in the world, Blue Note Records.

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Everything about this documentary fascinated me.  I fell more and more in love with the music, the artists, the cover art and the history of the label every time I watched it. The archival footage is just amazing.  Another piece to the fascinating Blue Note story is the Blue Note cover art.  The cover art is just as famous as the music and it has it’s own history.  This wonderful documentary has since been released on DVD and I have yet to replace my trusty dusty VHS even though it’s worth every penny and should be added to any serious jazz documentary collection.  But in the meantime we can all enjoy this full length youtube stream.

One For ‘Grew – R.I.P. Mulgrew Miller

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Last week on May 29th the world lost celebrated jazz pianist Mulgrew Miller at the age of 57 due to complications from a recent a stroke. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Miller family and jazz fans worldwide.  Mr. Miller recorded hundreds of album as a leader and sideman during his 30 year recording career. He worked extensively with singer Betty Carter, trumpeter Woody Shaw, drummer Tony Williams and drummer Art Blakey as a member of the Jazz Messengers from 1983-1986.

In recent years Mr. Miller had become a teacher and mentor to some of the most prominent jazz musicians in music today.  Whether sharing the stage or recording in the studio, Mr. Miller inspired a new generation of jazz musicians, like trumpeter Roy Hargrove, bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Karriem Riggins. Hodge and Riggins were also in a trio with Mr. Miller.

In 2007,  pianist and then up and comer Robert Glasper recorded a tribute to Mulgrew Miller entitled One For ‘Grew (Mulgrew Miller) on his My Element LP which was his second album for Blue Note Records. Click the album cover below to check out the Mp3 of One For ‘Grew (Mulgrew Miller).

R.I.P. MULGREW MILLER

Robert Glasper - One For 'Grew

Jean Bach, Jazz Documentarian, Filmmaker and Fan, Dies at 94

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“The greatest picture of that era of musicians ever taken.” – Art Kane

On August 12, 1958 at about 10 a.m., 57 notable jazz musicians came together to take a group photo that would become one of the most famous and important objects in the study of the history of jazz.  The photographer was Art Kane, a freelance photographer working for Esquire Magazine and the location was in front of a Brownstone at 17 East 126th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues in Harlem, New York City.

For years a print of the famous black and white photograph hung in the office of Jean Bach’s husband, Bob, a television executive. After his passing in 1985, Ms. Bach learned  that Milt Hinton, the bassist and jazz photographer, had a home movie of the original 1958 shoot, in which Ms. Bach used the footage as a basis for her documentary. Her fascination with the photograph and her love for jazz music fueled her desire to document that famous day by creating an hour long film, A Great Day In Harlem, about how the shoot came together, what was taking place during the shoot and how the musicians interacted with one another. Complementing the raw footage are interviews with surviving musicians who were in the photo, performance footage and narration by Quincy Jones.

The documentary film A Great Day In Harlem was released in 1994 and is, to this day, a treasured piece of jazz music history for historians, musicians and collector alike. Below is the full stream of the 1994 Academy Award Nominated Documentary A Great Day In Harlem.

R.I.P. Jean Bach