“In the early 80’s a lot of my customers traded their entire record collections for compact discs; now they’ve gone back and traded their CD’s for records” – Fred Cohen
Always judge an album by its cover. Subconsciously i’ve believed in this idea ever since I first started buying music, and it’s this visual approach to my music selection that has undoubtably inspired my interest in jazz. There’s a quality to jazz music that encourages experimentation in its accompanying art and design; a consistent pursuit for originality that’s perfectly represented in Taschen’s new release, Jazz Covers. An epic two-volume set featuring hundreds of the best examples from the world of jazz and all of its subcategories from the 1940s – 1990s.
Each volume starts off with a series of interviews with preeminent figures of the jazz community including art director Bob Ciano, New York’s Jazz Record Centre owner Fred Cohen and Blue Note sound engineer Rudy Van Gelder. Each give an informative discussion, offering their views on the designs, music industry and approach to their work, with particular interest going to Ciano’s work on the sophisticated series of album covers for the infamous CTI label.
What follows is a jazz enthusiasts dream and a definitive check list for collectors. The majority of the covers are displayed full-size and each includes credit notes for the illustrator, photographer, designer, musician and label along with a little bit of history about the album; extra details that wouldn’t appear in lesser reference books. Another great addition and one that finishes volume two, is the Top Ten list, in which 12 DJs offer their own essential selection of classic jazz albums.
A hugely enjoyable set of books for me on two levels; as a jazz music fan and a designer, so they easily earn my hearty recommendation. I’ll certainly continue to dip into them when looking for something new to listen to and inspire new work. In fact, if you’re running a little short on creative inspiration lately I suggest you pick up a copy. Take some time out to indulge in the amazing array of cover art whilst your favorite jazz record plays in the background and if your creative juices don’t start flowing you might want to check your pulse.