Anybody interested in Jazz, the history of jazz and the many anecdotes that come along with it, should pay a visit to the JazzWax – blog of Marc Myers. It’s filled to the brim with stories and interviews, with photographs and film snippets and, of course, record covers.
Recently Myers posted a 4-part interview with Paul Bacon who was one of the first designers and art directors to give jazz-albums their distinctive look.
In the early years of LP cover design, there were no rules. The only driving force was that a cover had to be graphically gripping. Designers then often worked with just two colors, and much rested on typeface solutions and the integration of motion, dimension and excitement. As one of the early jazz-album cover designers and art directors, Paul Bacon was free to follow his artistic instincts and invent a fresh, new cover look.
But Paul was also on the vanguard of a new artistic movement. Along with a handful of art directors and designers, Paul was creating a new mood and mystique for modern jazz. Like a box of cereal or a bag of potato chips, the jazz LP in its infancy called for packaging that sold the promise of what was inside: the artist's genius and the joy of the music. In the LP era, the record-buyer's initial impressions and desires were in the hands of the art director, and jazz musicians knew it.
Bacon worked for Blue Note and later for RiverSide. He seemed to have had a special connection with pianist Thelonious Monk, for whom he did many covers. Enjoy a little selection of his work, then go on over to the JazzWax-site where you can find the extensive interview with Paul Bacon…