Whether you’re a jazz cat or don’t know Art Blakey from Art Taylor, the Blue Note Spotify app makes finding — and more importantly, listening to — jazz easy and informative.
Blue Note Records published some of the most influential albums in jazz. Heard about "Kind of Blue?" That’s one of them. "Blue Train?" Likewise. Many of the greatest jazz musicians have recorded for Blue Note: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk, to name a few.
Listening to jazz is the best way to explore the genre's zigs and zags, and this free app reveals a deep catalog of jazz history within a few clicks.
You need Spotify's free PC and Mac software for the app to work. (On an iPhone or Android phone, you'll need the paid app.) After adding the Blue Note app to Spotify, it appears under "Apps" in the right column of Spotify.
Blue Note divided the app into sections to help you explore its catalog. The home screen allows you to drill down. You can filter the main artist list by year, instrument or style, though the style filter options are narrow: Tradition, Groove and Voices. Combine instrument and style filters, and they are good enough to get you headed in the musical direction you want to learn more about.
If you’re new to jazz, pick a style and start listening. Then you can add more filters later as you discover the instruments and time periods that you like best.
Each album lists the players with links to their bios. On bio pages, you’ll find links to every Blue Note recording that the artist has been on. This is like going down the rabbit hole in jazz. Start with John Coltrane’s "Blue Train," and then read about Philly Joe Jones, his drummer on the album. You’ll discover he played on Hank Mobley’s 1957 album "Hank," which leads you reading about trumpeter Donald Byrd — and on and on you go.
[SEE ALSO: What Is Songza? And Why Is it Rocking the Web? ]
If hip-hop and rap are more your thing, check out the “Blue Break Beats” tab, where you can find the original sources of samples found in tracks from artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Ice Cube and the Beastie Boys.
If you have any interest in jazz, add this app to your Spotify software. Then set aside some significant time to swing, groove and feel the funk of jazz. You might even discover that, despite rumors to the contrary, jazz isn’t dead after all.