Stanley Turrentine - Up at Minton’s with Grant Green, Horace Parlan, George Tucker and Al Harewood.
Today is Turrentine’s birthday btw.
Hank Mobley with Donald Byrd and Lee Morgan record framed at the Lee Morgan Shrine in Harlem.
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!
The Magnificent Thad Jones Volume 3. Not to be confused with this album.
Track it down: The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Herbie Nichols on Mosaic
One of my friends is a graphic designer and he’s passionate about LP cover art. We compiled what we thought the best Blue Note album covers are (only the Reid Miles years), and we noticed that 3 names were represented more than anyone else. The names are Hank Mobley, Grant Green and Lee Morgan. We had differing opinions about other things, but those 3 names kept showing up on our lists.
Reid Miles and Francis Wolff did great work together, but something about their Mobley, Green and Morgan covers just stands out. You can feel the atmosphere with them. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s more apparent with their covers than anyone else.
Here is a slideshow of 60 Blue Note covers that I think are some of the best. It was hard to round it out, trust me. The list started out at 300.
Grant Green - Matador
Big thanks to Atane for the recommendation of this record, I really dig it!!
Johnny Coles - Little Johnny C.
Sidemen are Joe Henderson, Leo Wright, Duke Pearson, Pete La Roca, Bob Cranshaw and Walter Perkins.
Sonny Rollins - A Night at the Village Vanguard. Pete La Roca’s drum solo on A Night in Tunisia is legendary. Drum solo begins at 4:20. La Roca caught the holy ghost, he yells throughout.