The Art of Blue Note
Today we explore the album cover art of Modern Jazz giant Blue Note Records. In my opinion Blue Note Records has always had some very stylistic album covers from their humble beginnings of the 7000 series through the legendary 1500 series. In the early 1940s before Blue Note was recording Modern Jazz, their album covers still showed a flair of modernism. These early 40s recordings are also known as the 7000 series, in reference to their catalog numbers and were first issued on 78 rpm records as a set. The records came in heavy kraft paper sleeves, bound with a front and rear cover. These record sets were then finished with a graphic design for the cover. The early Blue Note album covers were designed by freelance graphic designer Paul Bacon. Blue Note re-issued the 7000 series recordings in 1951 onto the new microgroove record format. The new LP contained all the music from the 4 record 78 rpm sets onto one 10" vinyl record that slipped in and out of a cardboard sleeve or album jacket. Blue Note utilized the same cover art for these 7000 series reissues which consists of 30 10" LPs (from 30 78 rpm album sets). The following record covers are the 1940s cover designs showing off on the 1950s new 10" vinyl format record sleeve. --
"Does This Cover Make Me Look Fat" ??
James P Johnson "Stomps Rags & Blues Rent Party Piano" 1951
James P Johnson "Jazz Band Ball" 1951
Sidney Bechet & Wild Bill Davison, vol 2 1951
Sidney de Paris & His Blue Note Stompers 1951
Art Hodes & His Hot 7 "Dixieland Clambake" 1951
Meade Lux Lewis "Boogie Woogie Classics" 1951
Meade Lux Lewis "Roll Em"
75 Years of Blue Note Records
This great book was published for Blue Note's seventy-fifth anniversary, this landmark book is the first official illustrated story of the label, from 1939s humbled roots to its renaissance today. The book features classic album artwork, unseen contact sheets, rare ephemera from the Blue Note Archives, commentary from some of the biggest names in jazz today, and featured reviews of seventy-five key albums, making this is the definitive book on the legendary label Blue Note Records.
New Faces New Sounds
The Dawn of the Vinyl Age
At the dawn of the vinyl age Blue Note Records continues to have very stylized album covers but the new 10" microgroove format finds Blue Note looking for more of a contemporary sound or modern identity, which they found with their modern jazz series "New Faces New Sounds". The Modern Jazz Series is also known as the 5000 series, which is in reference to the records catalog numbers. Paul Bacon continues to design the album covers along with a few other freelance graphic artist including John Hermansader, Gil Melle, Burt Goldblatt, Bill Hughes to name a few. The album cover designs include photos from Francis Wolff, who chronicled the first thirty years of Blue Notes history in photographs. The 5000 series consists of seventy 10" vinyl records, which in 1956 were re-issued onto the new 12" vinyl format but with different album cover art, which makes the 10" vinyl records unique on to themselves. The following album covers are from the 10" vinyl Modern Jazz 5000 series
Art Blakey "A Night at Birdland, vol. 1" 1954
Fats Sadi Combo "The Swinging Fats Sadi" 1955
Julius Watkins "Julius Watkins Sextet" 1954
Miles Davis, vol. 2 1953
Clifford Brown "New Star on the Horizon" 1953
Introducing The Kenny Drew Trio "New Faces, New Sounds" 1953
Blue Note Records Album Cover Art
The Cover Art of Blue Note Records is an essential volume for every jazz fan. This new edition gathers the entirety of the two original volumes published nearly two decades ago; with every cover, essay, with over 400 covers spanning decades of jazz greats.
Blue Note Records: The Covers
Blue Note Records Modern Jazz
The Legendary 1500 Series
1955 brings a new 12" vinyl format and Blue Note responds with re-issues of the modern jazz 5000 series from 10" vinyl to the new 12" vinyl format which were issued with a new album cover design as well. The same year Blue Note launches their legendary modern jazz 1500 series which consists of 99 records kicking off with Miles Davis vol. 1 BLP-1501 and ending in 1958 with Bennie Green, Soul Stirrin BLP-1599 a what you might call a bonus album Blue Note 1600 Introducing The 3 Sounds. The graphic designs for the first eight covers of the 1500 series were created by freelance designer John Hermansader and in 1956 Reid Miles became the labels art director who prior to this was on staff for Hermansader. Reid Miles honed the Blue Note look utilizing Francis Wolff's black and white photos and continuing in a Bauhaus modernist style with muted color palates, tinted photos, juxtaposition lettering, treating the lettering as visual elements that can be broken apart, stacked upon one another in a playful way, shrunk down or blown up and brought together with the photography in a way that seems gravitational. Blue Note did use some other freelance designers during this period notably Andy Warhol, Harold Feinstein and Tom Hannan.
Art Blakey Quintet "A Night At Birdland, vol. 2" 1954
Kenny Dorham "Round About Midnight" 1956
Clifford Brown "Memorial Album" 1956
Paul Chambers "Whims of Chambers" 1956
Hank Mobley "With Donald Byrd and Lee Morgan" 1956
Thad Jones "The Magnificent Thad Jones, vol. 3" 1957
Lee Morgan "The Cooker" 1958
John Coltrane "Blue Train" 1957
John Coltrane "Blue Train" 1958
Jazz Photos of Francis Wolff
From 1941-1965 Francis Wolff took thousands of photographs during the rehearsals and recording sessions that made Blue Note Records the world's most famous jazz label. This book presents over 200 of those intimate photographs and the text details the history of the label and the fascinating stories behind some of its most legendary recordings. A valuable reference section includes biographies of the artists and the names and dates of the sessions at which the photos were taken.
Sonny Rollins "Newk´s Time"
The 4000 Series
In 1958 Blue Note Records changed the catalog numbering on their albums from 1500 series to 4000 series, beginning with 4001 which was Sonny Rollins´ Newk´s Time. The 4000 series relates to 400+ albums which ran into the 1970s. Reid Miles continues on as art director and created masterpiece album covers for the label until 1967. In 1965 Blue Note had been sold to Liberty, without any changes in the music or graphic policy of the label but by 1967 changes become obvious. Alfred Lion left Blue Note in 1965 due to health problems and Francis Wolff died in 1971 where the rest of the old Blue Note Records finally died with him. The hard bop jazz, which Blue Note had documented for so many years, was no longer. The younger audiences found little in jazz to interest them. which once again leaves Blue Note in search of a new sound and by 1971 the label moved towards fusion, but most of all seemed to flounder around. The classic blue-white label was changed to a black-blue and then solid blue and the old "The Finest in Jazz Since 1939" logo was retire.
Dizzy Reece "Star Bright" 1959
Dizzy Reece "Blues In Trinity" 1958
Hank Mobley "Roll Call" 1961
Hank Mobley "No Room for Squares" 1963
Eric Dolphy "Out To Lunch" 1964
Hank Mobley "Workout" 1961
Dexter Gordon "A Swingin´ Affair" 1963
Kenny Dorham "Una Mas" 1963
Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz Documentary
Herbie Hancock "My Point of View" Full Album
Various Artist "Blue Funk"
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