This is a large format (approximately 12"x 12") hardcover ,well made book. There is a five page overview concerning the era (1965 into the early 80's) when this music was released. This essay nicely covers the time and integrates some of the artists involved. There are 169 pages of actual album art,many almost life-size. The smaller reproductions (four to a page) are still large enough to see details. The reproductions themselves (not in chronological order) are crisp and clean,and printed on a matte surface paper. There is an index,bibliography and credits pages. Interspersed throughout the book are short pieces on some of the artists (Sun-Ra,Ornette Coleman,Don Cherry,Mary Lou Williams,AACM,etc.) and some of the record labels (Strata -East,Flying Dutchman,Impulse,etc.) included in this overview of a short,but exciting era in jazz.
This book (and the 2 CD set,sold separately) is proof that beginning in the 60's,rock and roll wasn't the only music changing in style and looks. This well done book shows the flip-side to what Blue Note Records, Prestige Records,and other mainstream labels,were releasing in the world of jazz. The jazz artists represented in this book were fiercely independent in both outlook and presentation,and this book puts in context the feelings of a number of those artists who were questioning their place in not only the jazz world,but the world itself. Artists were incorporating sometimes wild graphics with their music,as representative of their music-none more than the jazz musicians/groups represented here,who are distinctive of the time. Certainly before the late 60's,when rock music exploded,jazz artists were releasing small issues of innovative music,with innovative graphics. The artists represented here (and others) knew of and took advantage of the "do-it-yourself" credo,and released their music (out of economic necessity) in small print-runs,that echoed the 70's punk era of DIY,in order to get their music to the public. The musicians represented are both well known and relatively unknown,which gives this book some needed depth-not just covering jazz artists most everyone is familiar with.
This wonderful book contains many examples of album art work that was produced by these artists,and the relatively small record labels (some artist owned) who were willing to release this non-mainstream music. This is one time when having both the 2 CD set (reviewed elsewhere) and this book make for a great addition for jazz listeners who can appreciate this type of jazz. These album covers were produced in an era before desktop artwork was the norm. Some are hand-drawn,which gives the artwork a real vitality. A number of the covers,usually for economic reasons,are in black-and-white,which gives them a stark beauty. But in total,the artwork shown here are prime examples of a certain era in this country,when the civil rights/African movement was in the forefront of musicians' minds. And through their music and album graphics musicians who felt alienated could,hopefully,be heard. For anyone who is interested in unique artwork from a long vanished era,this is the book. Certainly it could have been double in length,but what's shown is very fine indeed,and is representative of this time period. This book can easily sit next to other volumes of album cover art,even though the time period covered is relatively short. Looking through this book,the reader can see the explosion in thinking that went on,both in the jazz world and the world in general.