The Cover Art of Blue Note Records: The Collection (Anglais) Relié – 21 février 2011
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Les graphistes de chez Blue note records ont encore des leçons à nous donner, j'ai les larmes aux yeux à chaque fois que je feuillette ce bouquin. Une merveille...
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There are literally hundreds of covers from some of the most acclaimed albums Blue Note ever released, and if you're anything like me you'll spend hours just flicking through it and feasting your eyes on the work of seminal designer Reid Miles, Blue Note stalwart and budding photgrapher Francis Wolff, and the many other famous or less well-known figures who played a part in creating the label's unique visual legacy, which is arguably just as important as its musical one.
The beautiful full-colour photos of the covers range from 8.5" square, full-page shots, down to 3.25" squares arranged four to a page. Each album cover has its title and original catalogue number alongside, as well as the artist's name, the recording or release date, and the names of the cover designers or cover photographers. The covers are often arranged to highlight certain themes or styles that popped up over the course of the label's long history
There are some short but informative essays at the beginning of the book on the label's founding, its major achievements and players, as well as its continuing influence today, written by the authors as well as those who were along on the ride such as Alfred Lion's wife, Ruth. There are a couple of small typos in the text, as on page 7 where it says Blue Note was founded in 1959, but in general they are very well written and lots of fun to read. At the end of the book there are also some rare and stunning black and white pictures (naturally!) of some of the artists who made Blue Note so famous.
This is a book all jazz and cover art lovers will treasure forever.
Most of the work is by Reid Miles and over fifteen years he created about five hundred LP covers, frequently using the gutsy black and white photos of musicians taken by Francis Wolf. Many of these great photos have a black background because they were taken in the windowless studio of Blue Note's main recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder.
Considering that plenty of these cover designs are well over forty years old they still look fresh and dynamic. I think it is because they are really quite simple, a great photo, straightforward typography and perhaps Reid Miles secret: the clever use of space. Flick through the pages and cover after cover have empty areas, these helped to create the Blue Note look. Most LP covers were usually designed to avoid empty space, "fill that hole with the track titles" was no doubt a common cry in record company marketing departments.
This compact paperback is a lovely reminder of some wonderful work by a designer who created so much from so little.
***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
Much of the Blue Note catalog has passed into the public domain in the last few years, which has enabled the recent release of incredibly inexpensive multi-CD sets of "Eight Classic Albums" by Real Gone Jazz and other other labels. Since these CD sets are very bare-bones in their packaging and presentation, it's great to be able to view the original album covers.
For someone like myself, who bought many of these albums when they came out, the book generates a flood of memories. For younger folks who may be new to the music, the book evokes the time and culture of jazz in the 50's and 60's and amply displays the true definition of "cool".