Blue Note: The Free iPad App For Jazz Lovers

| Free on iTunes

I was first introduced to jazz, I mean "real" jazz, when I was in Air Force. My next door neighbor, Charles, had an extensive collection of jazz albums. Up until that time I was listening to a little of everything, Soul, Rock, Pop, Disco, Classical, even Easy Listening and Country. As long as it fell on my ears pleasingly, I listened. I loved music. It had been with me through many pleasant and not so pleasant times in my life, and so the song I knew held deep meaning to me. But I had avoided jazz.

Free on iTunes

My perception of jazz at that time was that it was chaotic, random noise with no discernible rhythm. There is a faction of artists who produce such, but, just like there's genres of R&B and Rock, there are categories of jazz that I had completely missed because of my generalized conceptions.

One day, Charles introduced me to Friends and Strangers and Satin Doll, albums by Ronnie Laws and Bobbi Humphrey respectively. Laws is a saxist, Ms. Humphrey plays a flute. Both produced music with such beauty, precision, and meaning that even my naive musical tastes could readily appreciate their talents.

(Friends and Strangers isn't available on iTunes, but The Best of Ronnie Laws has the title song of that album.)

I fell in love with music all over again.

Here was music that had the sonic depth and breath of classical, the playfulness of Pop, and the soul stirring beauty of R&B. I could listen to some tunes over and over, and each time I'd find something new to love about it. I wasn't a fan of every tune or every artist, but my assumptions and prejudices about a whole class of music had been nuked by two albums.

I had no idea back then, but labels played a big role in making music accessible. There were many record companies that made products for the masses, meaning the records were cheaply recorded and cheaply made. There were other labels, however who offered superior products. Get an album from them and you know you'll hear the best they can offer. Mr. Laws and Ms. Humphrey played for Blue Note which, at that time, was the quintessential label for jazz artists. Blue Note hosted the likes of Art Blakey, Donald Byrd, John Coltrane, Lonnie Smith and many other jazz giants.

Blue Note was founded in 1938 and has gone through a lot of changes, but its heritage is something that cannot be changed. If you're like me and want to learn more about the jazz, artists, and the company that was Blue Note then you're in luck. EMI, the parent company of the current Blue Note, has released an iPad app that is an absolute must-have. The app is called Blue Note by Groovebug, and before you read any further, go grab it now. Don't worry, it's free/subscribe, and you'll want it whether you shell out bucks or not.

Blue Note

The app is part magazine, part art collection, part music history resource, and part music player, and it does all of that well.

Open the Blue Note app and you are greeted with a page full of large thumbnail sized squares. They look like album art arranged in neat columns, but they are really links to different features. Some point to featured playlists, some to articles, some to photo galleries, while others point to the history of Blue Note or Blue Note merchandise.

Blue Note

Tap on or search for an artists and you'll get cover art for all his or her Blue Note releases, song index, and links to videos, articles and other paraphernalia surrounding the artists. I'm not talking about some silly Wikipedia entry, I mean clips of actual newspaper articles, concert and show videos, liner notes, and so much more.

Blue NoteBios and histories of albums are artists abound in Blue Note

This app is done right, too. Kick off a video or tune and it plays in the background while you browse album art and other juicy nuances. Apple TV owners (2nd gen or better) will get a kick out of AirPlaying vids and tunes over their big homes systems while leaving them free to explore the app some more.

Here's a hint: You can find some complete tunes, not just 30 second clips, in the video section. Not every tune is available and it doesn't automatically move on to another tune once it's done playing. Still, you can find a wealth of free jazz this way.

Blue NoteAlbum cover art of Art Blakey. Typical in Blue Note

Earlier I said this app was free/subscribe. It is. While the history, articles, photos and videos are all free, the music (except where I've just explained) is only delivered in 30 second clips. All-you-can-eat streaming will set you back a paltry US$2.00 a month. That's right, top shelf jazz by world class artists for just two bucks a month! Heck, it may as well be free.

Blue NoteVintage vids and more

This is a premium app whether you subscribe to the music or not. The videos alone are worth the download. It looks good, works great, and it delivers the quality of the music you might expect from Blue Note.

Blue NoteAnd actual article enhance your jazz experience

Blue Note. Good stuff here. Get it.

That's a wrap for this week. I'm done with featured freebie apps for a while so week it's back to the standard 3-app format. Have a great weekend and week, and see you next Friday.

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For shame, Vern! For Shame!
Not a word on the Blues? You mentioned Classical and by that I hope you meant Serious-(ly) Ancient right winged stuff for true Classical is only one tiny blip of about sixty years in the music sphere - in a stretch - that included four grand fellows, the main guy being Motzy though Haydn was pretty nifty, Gluck did his best and Beethoven jumped ship to the Romantic side. And though it encompasses the whole of music to some degree is only half of the big pie. The left wing stuff that gives soul, heart, purpose, and a plethora of other twists and turns to all grand styles is Blues and from this momentous suite comes not least, da Jazz, Swing, your Bebop, Gospel, Folk and Country to Rock and to Roll, and all the screeching music that follows.
Do yourself a fav, Vern my friend, and jump into the grand far left starting with a few of the best and easiest by which be swayed: B.B.King, Blind Faith, Clapton, Dylan, Howlin’ Wolf (Chester Burnett a Buddha in style), John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Ottis Redding, little Willie Dixon.
I cut my teeth on Howlin’ Wolf and Clapton. I didn’t at first like Chester, and Clapton befuddled me, but I couldn’t pull needle from vinyl and my feet steered me to the Wolf so often “The London Session” sat on my stereo like a monument. And if you are into smoking some of the good stuff, the roller coster does take wing and swing with the Blues. There is something a little dangerous in this music just as comfort pours forth from Classical but these two ends all music do they make.
Vern, here’s a crazy one. I was showing my class of eight year olds some old time silent films of Chaplin—one was Charlie in an old camp house with pot bellied stove—and the scratchy music in the back ground was really early boring blues. I mean boooooring to the uninitiated. The little tykes complained about the music but their feet couldn’t keep from tapping, even after I pointed the fact out to them, even when I jumped up and down heroically demanding “stop tapping”! From there they were hooked which proved to me it’s in the blood, bud. Even fish like it, but ya gotta get educated and you ain’t musically educated if you don’t know the foundation, Classical and Blues.
Last little point. Note the name of the app. Blue Note. I don’t think I need elaborate.
Now find me a blues app and your back in my good books Vern.



Let me try submitting this again.

My wife loves jazz, and has been listening to it since a student in high school (which is what secondary school is called here in the US). Although we both now primarily listen to classical music (I won’t take the bait the mhikl so skilfully proffered on what is ‘classical’ music), for which I am largely guilty of selecting, she still routinely listens to jazz when alone or in the car. Her knowledge of the genre is impressive.

I’ll pass this along to her, as well as share any comments she has once she has checked out the app.


Jeremiah Seraphine

Vern, this was a great read.  I’m a music junkie and started getting into jazz through DJing and collecting vinyl.  However, I didn’t get really deep into it until my company, Groovebug, started to plan out this app.  I’m thrilled to read about your experience with the product. It really was labor of love.  Don’t hesitate to contact me with continued feedback.


Vern Seward

@Mhkil: Thanks for the comment. Blues was another genre I came late too. Still trying to wrap my brain around it.

@Wab95: I’m sure your wife will LOVE the Blue Note app.

@Jeremiah: Thanks. Glad to have found the app. It’s a good one.



is there going to be a App for the iPhone or is its only going to be avelable in and iPad.

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