Blue Note Records is an American jazz record label that is owned by Universal Music Group and operated with Decca Records. Established in 1939 by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis, it derives its name from the blue notes of jazz and the blues. Originally dedicated to recording traditional jazz and small group swing, from 1947 the label began to switch its attention to modern jazz. Although the original company did not record many of the pioneers of bebop, significant exceptions are Thelonious Monk, Fats Navarro and Bud Powell.
In 1956, Blue Note employed Reid Miles, an artist who worked for Esquire magazine. The cover art produced by Miles, often featuring Wolff’s photographs of musicians in the studio, was as influential in the world of graphic design as the music within would be in the world of jazz. Under Miles, Blue Note was known for their striking and unusual album cover designs. Miles’ graphic design was distinguished by its tinted black and white photographs, the creative use of sans-serif fonts, and restricted color palette (often black and white with a single color), and frequent use of solid, rectangular bands of color or white, influenced by the Bauhaus School of Design. Though Miles’s work is closely associated with Blue Note and has earned iconic status and frequent homage, Miles was only a casual jazz fan, according to Richard Cook; Blue Note gave him several copies of each of the many dozens of albums he designed, but Miles gave most of their friends or sold them to second-hand record shops. A few mid-fifties album covers featured drawings by then-unknown Andy Warhol.