It must schwing

Blue Note – Photography by Francis Wolff and Jimmy Katz

The legendary jazz label Blue Note Records was founded by two German-Jewish emigrants in New York City in 1939: Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, who both grew up in Berlin. For these two passionate jazz fans, jazz was not just music but an attitude towards life.

Past exhibition

Map with all buildings that belong to the Jewish Museum Berlin. The Libeskind building is marked in green


Libeskind Building, ground level, Eric F. Ross Gallery
Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin

Alfred Lion’s credo was “It must schwing”. This was also the title of the exhibition featuring Francis Wolff's photos of numerous musicians during recording sessions. The exhibition showed intimate portraits of outstanding jazz musicians like John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, and Jimmy Smith.

Jimmy Katz began work as a photographer for Blue Note in 1993. His work documents the more recent history of the label and was also shown in the exhibition.

Alfred Lion

Alfred Lion was born in 1908 in Schöneberg, which is now part of Berlin. He fled from Nazi Germany to the US via Chile, where he co-founded the record label Blue Note Records in 1939, together with Francis Wolff. He died in 1987 in San Diego, California.

More on Wikipedia

Francis Wolff

Francis Wolff was born in 1907 or 1908 in Berlin as Frank Wolff. Before he fled to the US from Germany in 1939, he worked as an advertising photographer. In New York City, he co-founded the record label Blue Note Records together with Alfred Lion. He died in 1971 in New York City.

More on Wikipedia

Jimmy Katz

On Jimmy Katz‘s website you can find a selection of his photos:

Jimmy Katz's website

Blue Note Records

Blue Note Records was sold by Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff in 1965 but the label still exists:

Blue Note Records website

More on the history of Blue Note Records on Wikipedia:

More on Wikipedia

The Jewish Museum Berlin would like to thank the Embassy of the United States of America for its generous support for this exhibition.

Exhibition Information at a Glance

  • When

    30 Oct 2009 to 7 Feb 2010

  • Where

    Libeskind Building, ground level, Eric F. Ross Gallery
    Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin
    See Location on Map

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