On 8 June 1939 Sidney Bechet playing soprano saxophone, pianist Meade “Lux” Lewis, Teddy Bunn on guitar, Johnny Williams on bass along with drummer Big Sid Catlett were in a New York Studio and recorded a version of George Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’. This was a pivotal moment in the history of Blue Note.
The soprano saxophonist that Lion had briefly met in Germany almost a decade earlier, a man irascible at best and downright difficult at worst, Bechet turns in one of the most beautiful readings of this most beautiful song. Issued as BN6, this was not only a fabulous record, it also became the label’s first hit with as many as thirty copies a day sold at Commodore Music Shop alone. This changed the fortunes of the label and enabled Blue Note to truly think of itself as a record label – one with a future. Summertime was later released on Bechet’s album, Jazz Classics Vol.1 as a 10″ long playing record with a distinctive Paul Bacon design on the cover. Bacon was the first designer that worked for Blue Note and did much to establish the label’s look, prior to the arrival of Reid Miles.