Francis Wolff

Dexter Gordon

About this photograph

The tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon was a reference for Coltrane or even Sony Rollins. From 1947, at the age of only 24, he became popular thanks to his duo with the saxophonist Wardell Gray. He signed with Blue Note in 1960 and spent over fifteen years in Europe. He regularly went back and forth to record for his label. He was an advocate of traditional jazz, chosing Europe as a refuge against racism and insecurity. It was there that he found his audience and was the most successful. However, in 1976 Dexter Gordon decided to return to live in the United States. His return was acclaimed and he signed large contracts with prestigious protagonists in the music industry.

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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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