John Coltrane Live At The Village Vanguard Impulse

Following on from the must see/mysterious 93, posted a link to the complete Blue Note record cover catalog. It’s a masterful evolution of design, from the frenetic bebop inspired first forays of the 50’s towards it’s gradual decline as the 60’s entered their peak. These covers feel instantly familiar, beautifully conceived and a master class in design. It’s fascinating to trace a fragmentation of the Jazz scenes reflected in the less cohesive, more bloated (in some cases) covers that documented the late 60’s early 70’s.

This led me to dig around the rest of the jazz scene, was Blue Note the only one to dedicate such clarity to their artwork? Well my question had been partially answered by the book I am currently reading on the !Impulse! record label. Most famously known as the house that ‘Trane built. Impulse was known for it’s very distinctive colored spines (a vibrant orange) and it’s consistent, forceful design philosophy. Obviously influenced by the work of Early 60’s Blue Note (the labels shared studios, engineers, producers and the musicians would rarely record for one label exclusively) why !Impluse! albums work better for me is they keep their style. It evolved to express the ferociousness of the music they released as the decade (and artists) faced the radical changes of the late 1960’s. Even though the album covers from Archie Shepp (The Way Ahead) and John Coltrane Quartet (Africa Brass) are far removed from each other in jazz content, they are bound by an aesthetic that took chances, that gave no quarter, and pushed the envelope. There will be more on the work of !Impulse! but I need to process the ferocity of works such as Ascension and Live at the Village Vanguard to do it justice. In the meantime, enjoy these graphic delights.

Archie Shepp Way Ahead Impulse

John Coltrane Africa Brass Impulse

John Coltrane Johnny Hartman Impulse

Jackie McLean It's Time Blue Note

Evolution BLue Note

Lou Donaldson Sunny Side Up Blue Note

Here’s some smaller Jazz labels that took the bold graphic looks of Blue Note & Impulse… Some stunning work.

Mariano Bethlehem

THe Teddy Charles Tentet Atlantic

Ornette Coleman Free Jazz Atlantic

Mcrae Bethlehem

Ralph Sharon Bethlehem

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