Blue Note All-Stars

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A mid-'90s supergroup of jazz luminaries signed to Blue Note Records.
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The short-lived Blue Note All-Stars came together in late 1995 when WNET had a special radio report on young up-and-coming musicians and requested interviews with some of Blue Note's artists. Since trumpeter Tim Hagans, tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson, altoist Greg Osby, pianist Kevin Hays, and drummer Bill Stewart were all available (and had recently played with different groups at the Mt. Fuji Jazz Festival), they were interviewed and (at the request of WNET producers) played a few songs together (along with bassist Doug Weiss). When the resulting music was stronger than expected, Blue Note's Bruce Lundvall arranged for the band to record and play some concerts. With Essiet Essiet on bass completing the band, they recorded Blue Spirit (their only CD) and toured across country (in addition to playing some New York gigs) before going their separate ways. Despite the group's name, they did not perform older Blue Note classics but instead concentrated on original material. Most interesting was hearing the contrast between the adventurous free funk altoist Osby and the Joe Henderson-inspired hard bop tenor man Jackson and how they were indirectly influencing each other. Twenty years later, Blue Note president Don Was put together a new iteration of the band featuring pianist Robert Glasper, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, saxophonist Marcus Strickland, guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke, bassist Derrick Hodge, and drummer Kendrick Scott. In 2017, they released the album Our Point of View, featuring a guest appearance by veteran saxophonist Wayne Shorter.