Starbucks' Java Jazz Fusion

STARBUCKS IS GOING INTO THE music business. The popular coffee bars, big on background jazz music, are packaging the tunes on CDs and selling them along with double nonfat no-whip lattes. In a partnership with the Blue Note label of Thorn-EMI-owned Capitol Records, the chain's first album is called Blue Note Blend. It features such greats as Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and Nat King Cole (playing a little-known piano-only version of I Get a Kick out of You). To go with it, Starbucks developed a Blue Note Blend coffee ("a melodic mixture of rich coffees...easy as a velvety saxophone riff"), in blue bags to match the CD jacket.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz got the idea after Kenny G's Miracles CD sold well in Starbucks stores last Christmas season. Schultz is a good buddy of Kenny G's, and the musician was an early investor in the company. Many regular customers told Starbucks they like jazz. Schultz hopes to produce up to four Starbucks CDs a year, using newly rediscovered old tunes from Capitol Records' huge library.

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