Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Blue Note Jazz Photography of Francis Wolff by Francis Wolff

The friendship between two German teenagers in the 1920s led to the founding of one of the most important and successful jazz record companies in the world: Blue Note Records. It also resulted in the creation of a superb portfolio of photographs of many great musicians.

In 1924, Francis Wolff met Alfred Lion, who lived in the same neighborhood in Berlin, and discovered a mutual passion for jazz. Lion was so taken with the music, that he moved to New York City in 1928 to be at the jazz center of the world. Francis (or Frank) remained in Berlin, where he mastered the art of photography. When Alfred created Blue Note Records in 1939, he sent for Frank, but Frank chose to stay in Berlin despite the fact that, as a Jew, his life was at great risk. However, by the end of ’39 Wolff caught the last unrestricted boat out of Germany. He found a job as a photographer’s assistant in New York and he and Lion kept the record company going while both maintained their “day jobs.” Recording stopped when Lion was drafted in 1941. Then, with his discharge in ’43, Blue Note became a full-time business for these dedicated friends.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published