Francis Wolff

Born in 1926, John Coltrane is considered the most revolutionary and influential saxophonist in the history of jazz. He instigated an avant-garde trend in the 60s. He first appeared on the jazz scene at 18 years old. From 1949, he was the first alto saxophonist in the Dizzie Gillespie Band. It took years, as well as the support of Miles Davies and Thelonious Monk, for his talent to be recognised. In 1957, he had to face up to his drug and alcohol problems: ?I experienced a spiritual awakening in 1957, thanks to God, which led me to a richer, fuller and more productive life. At this time, I humbly requested that the means and privilege to make people happy through music be given to me.? From then on he grasped music like a spiritual quest appearing to want to reach the Divine. Upon his death in 1967, he was beatified by the African Orthodox Church.

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The Artist
Francis Wolff

Francis Wolff was born in Berlin in 1907. He met Alfred Lion when he was 15 years old and already a jazz and photography enthusiast. Their shared love for this new music cemented their friendship. In 1933, Lion emigrated to American soils. Wolf pursued a brilliant career as a photographer and collected records in spite of the Third Reich’s rise to power. In 1939, he had to face facts and escape Nazi Germany. He reached New York in October. He moved into Alfred Lion’s apartment. This place had also been the head office of a brand new jazz label ‘Blue note’ for about ten months. Wolff worked retouching in a photography studio in the daytime and in the evening was devoted to managing the label. The label developed and soon Wolff devoted all his time to it. He did however take his camera to each recording session for 28 years. He therefore photographed an important part of the history of jazz and its legends.In 1951, with the advent of the LP, and the imminent importance of record covers, the photographs taken by Francis Wolff became primordial for Blue Note. In 1967, Alfred Lion retired and Wolff took over the role of producer. He had to relinquish his photography. He remained at the helm of Blue Note until his death in 1971.

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