Tommy Turrentine and Charlie Rouse during Sonny Clark’s Leapin’ and Lopin’ session, November 13 1961 (photo by Francis Wolff)
Happy birthday Charlie Rouse!
Art Farmer with Clifford Jordan during Jordan’s Cliff Craft session, Hackensack NJ, November 10 1957 (photo by Francis Wolff)
Lee Morgan and Johnny Griffin at Griffin’s A Blowin’ Session, Hackensack NJ, April 6 1957 (photo by Francis Wolff)
Donald Byrd and Jackie McLean at Byrd’s Off To The Races session, Hackensack NJ, December 21 1958 (photo by Francis Wolff)
Thad Jones during his The Magnificent Thad Jones session, Hackensack NJ, February 2 1957 (photo by Francis Wolff)
BLUE NOTE RECORDS - A JAZZ FAIRY TALE
Blue Note Records is the most famous, influential and visionary jazz label in history. But Blue Note is also a fairy tale about two Jewish immigrants - Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff - who built up a legendary record company from literally nothing (together with Max Margulis).
Blue Note was the first (and for a long time the only) label to pay any attention to recording conditions, providing paid rehearsals, free meals, decent pay and a relaxed but respectful atmosphere in the studio. This all paid off in the incredible quality of the recordings.
JAZZ PHOTO ARCHIVE
Photographer Francis Wolff, a childhood friend of Lion’s, fled Berlin in 1939 on what was literally the last ship from Germany to New York. He moved into Lion’s cramped apartment, helped him with his nocturnal recording sessions, and kept the business going when Lion was drafted into the Army in 1941.
Wolff never gave up his first love, photography, and often took pictures of the musicians during rehearsals. In the late 1940s/1950s, when the new 10 and 12-Inch records required cover art, Blue Note already had an outstanding archive of photographic material.
COVER ART: REID MILES MEETS FRANCIS WOLFF
Reid Miles, an amazing modernist designer who designed over 500 LP covers for Blue Note Records through the 1950’s and 60’s, did an amazing job combining Wolff’s photographs with typographic elements and turning the covers into masterpieces of art (note: he also worked with pictures from other photographers and shot some of the cover photos himself).
When he first joined Blue Note, he worked as an assistant to John Hermansader, the then creative director of the company. John’s work was quite lovely in its own right, but lacked a certain punch that Miles would go on to deliver. Initially Miles just wanted to keep up and continue the stylistic tradition that Hermansader had started, but in the end he elevated it to staggering heights. (+) Find more Reid Miles covers here.
SEE IT, HEAR IT, FEEL IT
In my younger years there was no possibility to pre-listen music online, there were no good record stores where I lived, I had no friends with good taste in music, and not too much money, so I couldn’t afford to buy crap. One way to fulfill my need for good music was to buy used records at flea markets, and most of the times there were no record players to check if they were any good. That’s why I often let the cover “convince me” to buy a certain record.
People say that it’s the inner values that count, and that’s true. But I have no problem with great music in a wonderful package. That’s one of the things I miss in digital ages (and of course the amazing sound of a high-quality vinyl record).
P.S.: If you’re also a Jazz fan you have to check out Atane’s blog!
Grachan Moncur III at Jackie McLean’s Hipnosis session, Englewood Cliffs NJ, February 3 1967 (photo by Francis Wolff)
Bassist Oscar Pettiford, Miles Davis and Gil Coggins during a recording session for Blue Note, 1952. Photo by Francis Wolff.