The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

The Art of Jazz #11: James Flora

Stephen posted one of James Flora's album covers yesterday and just left a few words about him in a comment. I thought I'd build on this a bit, because I've long been an admirer of this man's work.

The former Art Director for Columbia records (and later in the 1950s an author and illustrator of Children's books), James Flora brought a decidedly Modernist snap . . . without Modernism's dolorous weight . . . to his cover designs for Columbia's Jazz releases beginning in the 1940s (later for those of RCA-Victor). Album covers had heretofore been a perfunctory affair, with little thought lavished on the matter beyond how best it might get the product out the door. Flora may not have been the first cover designer whose work had merits beyond market performance but, as a Jazz afficionado himself, he seemed to be the first who determined to express something vital about the music in his cover art.

Here are three examples:

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Gene Krupa and His Orchestra (1947)

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This is Benny Goodman and His Orchestra (1951)

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Collaboration
(Shorty Rogers and Andre Previn; 1956)

1 comment :

Rob said...

Thanks for more cover art from Flora - they really are eerily beautiful. That's what I miss with CD covers - record albums are big enough for real art.

BCNU