Cover Stories with Paul Morris, Vol. 16

February 26th, 2016


Paul Morris is a graphic designer and writer who collects album art of the 1940’s and 1950’s. He finds his examples of influential mid-century design in the used record stores of Portland, Oregon.

In this edition, Paul shares some jazz covers from the 1950’s

 

 

 

__________

 

 

The PDX Jazz Festival has come to Portland, and to recognize the event I’ve gathered some jazz covers from the 1950s.

The first two originated in a photo studio, not a gritty nightclub. The image of Jeri Southern and Johnny Smith is by Chuck Stewart, the African American jazz photographer. The headphones and microphone are great. The second cover shows Shorty Rogers in front of a wall of sheet music, all Rodgers and Hart. The book at his feet is The Rodgers and Hart Songbook. Photograph by William Claxton.

a-1

 

a-2

 

__________

 

 

More sheet music in this 1957 photo of Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan. The Wild Bill Davison strings album has a photo by the noted photographer Arnold Newman that is fun to look at but has a contrived feeling. Pictured with the cornet-playing leader are trombonist Cutty Cutshall and clarinetist Bob Wilbur.

 

 

a-3

 

a-4

 

__________

Here the musicians are staged on a pretend-sidewalk with a backing of Broadway posters. The leader of this excellent album was Eliot Lawrence, shown standing between Jimmy Cleveland (trombone and argyle socks) and Al Cohn on baritone sax. The enlargement shows the 32-year-old Cohn blowing in a manner not recommended by his saxophone teacher. The picture was by David Hecht, a staff photographer for RCA. Marc Meyers wrote about this recording in JazzWax a couple years ago.  You can read it by clicking here.

 

a-5

 

a-6

 

 

 

__________

 

Bobby Troup is shown singing in two photos by Burt Goldblatt, a prolific and fascinating designer who will get his own column later. You decide whether it was a good idea to mash the two faces together.

 

a-7

 

 

__________

 

 

In this Goldblatt design picturing Gerry Mulligan and Sonny Stitt, the darkroom technique of combining two photos worked well. The unfortunately red cover is the one I own. Next is a black and white version that must have been the original.

 

a-8

 

a-9

__________

 

 

 

For Coast Concert Bobby Hackett flew west to California in 1955 and here he is on the runway in L.A., photo by Herman Leonard. Great music ensued in the Capitol studios. The Randy Weston cover from 1959 is atypical for featuring the musician’s family and for the woman photographer, Joan Martin. Design by Martin Israel.

a-10

 

 

a-11

__________

 

Phil Stern’s backlit portrait of Ella Fitzgerald for Like Someone in Love was a challenge for the printer. The design for the 1957 cover was by John D’Emilio. I found a variant online in which they decided to give prominent billing to Stan Getz, the star sideman.

The Pearl Bailey album draws from the W.C. Handy bio film St. Louis Blues, set in Memphis at the turn of the 20th century. The singer looks good in the period dress, while at the same time wondering, “How did I get here?”

 

a-12

a-13

 

a-14

 

__________

 

Herbie Mann’s 1957 session with Buddy Collette first appeared on Mode with the title Flute Fraternity. This 1962 reissue is retitled Hi-Flutin’. The art is credited to Dave Pell, who was mainly a bandleader and arranger. The illustration shows Collette and Mann wearing color-coordinated shirts. In the band are two jazz stars, Mel Lewis on drums (recognizable) and Jimmy Rowles on piano (not so much).

 

a-15

 

__________

 

 

Take a Number from 1 to 10 came out in 1961 from Argo, a Chess label in Chicago. Tenor saxist Benny Golson was a versatile arranger, and for this “project” he scored five standards and five originals for solo, two, duo, trio, etc., with the last song swelling to ten musicians. The gimmicky design is by Emmett McBain, a prominent African-American artist, advertising designer, and executive.  If you look closely at the lower right corner of the cover you’ll see the “cut-out” that used to mark records that went unsold and were returned or dumped on the used market.

I’m including Chicago Jazz because the Jazz Panorama label is obscure and I’m hoping someone can send me some information. The modernist geometric design by Murray Stein frames a nice pen-and-ink drawing of a band. The music is a reissue of some Louis Prima sessions on Brunswick in 1935.

 

a-16

 

 

a-17 

 

__________

 

 

The bright red Explosion! By Terry Gibbs’ big band was designed by Daniel Czubak. It shows houses, people, and debris being blown into the sky. This 1961 album has liner notes by Jerry Lewis, from which I learned that the overuse of exciting is not a new language problem. Jerry also liked enchanted, wonderful, and the greatest. They didn’t find room to credit the band members, which included soloists like Conte Candoli and Richie Kamuca.

 

a-18

 

a-19

 

 

 

*

 

 

Next time…The influential mid-century designer Eric Nitsche

__________

 

 

In Volume 1 of “Cover Stories,” Paul shared his collection of covers by Alex Steinweiss, known as the father of the record album cover, and for many years in charge of Columbia Records’ art department.

Volume 2 focused on Columbia covers

Volume 3 featured jazz illustrations from the early years of the record album

Volume 4 revisited the 1950’s with images of fans holding and enjoying their albums

Volume 5 explored the work of Alex Steinweiss when he used the pseudonym “Piedra Blanca”

Volume 6 featured teenagers of the 1950’s enjoying their music

Volume 7 featured Steinweiss album covers from his prime period — the late 1940’s and early 1950’s

Volume 8 featured a “disturbing” and fascinating trend in 1950?s album art — Records on the Floor!

Volume 9 featured a selection of RCA Victor album covers from Paul’s collection

Volume 10 featured a selection of covers by Curt John Witt, the prolific illustrator for mid-century budget record labels

Volume 11 featured a selection of “glamour girl” covers

Volume 12 featured the “late Columbia” era of master designer Alex Steinweiss

Volume 13 focused on Everest Records, the last of several new labels that Alex Steinweiss helped launch

Volume 14 Paul shares some of his personal jazz record collection, concentrating on the lesser known and sometimes quirky covers that emphasize photographs

Volume 15 took a look at the art of London Records

 

 

Share this:

2 comments on “Cover Stories with Paul Morris, Vol. 16”

  1. Nice to read your post in your new home. It was interesting to read that Dave Pell did album covers. There aren’t too many other musicians who have made covers for record albums — Gil Melle is the only one I can think of. Any others?

  2. Nice to read your post in your new home. It was interesting to read that Dave Pell did album covers. There aren’t too many other musicians who have made covers for record albums — Gil Melle is the only one I can think of. Any others?

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

Jeffrey Stewart, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, is interviewed about Locke (pictured), the father of the Harlem Renaissance.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 19 recommended recordings by five jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 19 recently released jazz recordings, including those by Branford Marsalis, Joe Martin, Scott Robinson, Allison Au and Warren Vache

Poetry

In a special collection of poetry, eight poets contribute seventeen poems focused on stories about family, and honoring mothers and fathers

The Joys of Jazz

In this new volume of his podcasts, Bob Hecht presents three very different stories; on Harlem Stride piano, Billy Strayhorn's end-of-life composition "Blood Count," and "Lester-ese," Lester Young’s creative verbal wit and wordplay.

Short Fiction

We had many excellent entrants in our recently concluded 50th Short Fiction Contest. In addition to publishing the winning story on March 11, with the consent of the authors, we have published several of the short-listed stories...

“What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Neil Tesser, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who write about their favorite album cover art

Art

“Thinking about Homer Plessy” — a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Jazz History Quiz #127

Before his tragic early death, this trumpeter played with Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, and John Coltrane, and most famously during a 1961 Five Spot gig with Eric Dolphy (pictured). Who is he?

Great Encounters

In this edition, Bob Dylan recalls what Thelonious Monk told him about music at New York’s Blue Note club in c. 1961.

Art

Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland's photographs and stories feature Stan Getz, Sun Ra, and Carla Bley.

Interviews

Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell discusses the life of the important 20th century American artist

Cover Stories with Paul Morris

In this edition, Paul writes about jazz album covers that offer glimpses into intriguing corners of the culture of the 1950’s

Coming Soon

Michael Cuscuna, the legendary record producer and founder of Mosaic Records, is interviewed about his life in jazz...Award-winning photographer Carol Friedman, on her career in the world of New York jazz photography

In the previous issue

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, talks about her book, and the complex life of her late husband.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 22 recommended recordings by seven jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

Contributing writers

Site Archive