In March 1944 Blue Note records had been releasing records for 5 years. Progress had been slow, they like all record labels were hampered by the strictures of war and unlike other record labels their only proper employee had been conscripted which slowed things down still further. But in late 1943 Alfred Lion had been released from the military on medical grounds and was back on the recording trail. Blue Note’s original office had closed when Lion was drafted and the company needed new premises. A place was secured at 767 Lexington Avenue, and, significantly, both Wolff and Lion decided to work there full-time.
Lion recorded boogie pianist James P. Johnson doing a number of sides on 4 March 1944 and sensing that things were heading the right way with the war effort he gambled and among the tunes he recorded was Victory Stride that became BN 32, a 12″ 78 rpm record when it was released in 1945. Johnson, who came from Harlem, had made his first piano rolls in 1916, later backed Bessie Smith, and also mentored the young Thomas Waller, who became known to the world as ‘Fats’.