Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Duke Ellington TV

Happy Birthday Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Duke Ellington's Unreleased German Recording

According to JazzTimes, Grönland Records in Germany will release a previously unissued Duke Ellington session on July 10.

Produced in 1970 by Conny Plank who is mostly known for his work with Kraftwerk and Eurythmics, the session has been recorded at Rhenus Studio in Cologne from which you can listen to a take, Afrique, here:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Art of Bob Crozier

If one looks carefully at the iconic LP artworks of the ABC Paramount's 1950s jazz series (as well as some of its non-jazz releases from the same period) two names sharing the credits continue to appear on every single cover. These two, who have created some of the most sophisticated, handsomely designed jazz cover arts in history of this music, are Alan Fontaine and Bob Crozier.

Whereas Alan Fontaine was in charge of photographing the musicians for ABC Paramount, Bob Crozier was the graphic artist and responsible for the final product. Fontaine, who also worked for the Esquire and photographed many Hollywood stars (among them Myrna Loy and Joan Crawford), could deliver a straightforward work, capturing all musicians, regardless of their style, in the same kind of docile, smiling pose. He wasn't a William Claxton or a Herman Leonard but he was good enough and more importantly, his work was jazz the beginning of the design process and not the end.

However, what really transformed the ABC Paramount cover designs was the work of Bob Crozier whose innovative, fresh, and intelligent ways of combining graphic art with photography gave a very distinctive look to the label's releases between 1955 and 1957.

Crozier joined the label as graphic artist shortly after ABC Paramount started operating in New York City. The label was releasing a catalogue as diverse as pop to jazz and children music to WWII songs. And what really gave a unified look to these diverse musical genres was their design.

Among stylistic motives in Crozier's artworks are his unique handwritten typefaces, and also a bold use of vivid colors against a backdrop of bright or white surfaces. He was isolating (photographed) figure from the background and by adding abstract elements to the composition, his design was actually complementing the existing photograph.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Pete Townshend on Wes Montgomery

The Montgomery Brothers
"In 1962, in my second year of Art College in London, I remember giving my saxophonist father some earphones to listen to the first stereo record I'd ever purchased. It was by Wes Montgomery. It was a strange feeling, sitting in the bedroom I'd shared with my little brother for six years, watching my father being transported by a decent (though lashed-together) Hi-Fi sound for the first time. It made me feel as though my father was junior to me rather than senior; I felt I was giving him something that, as we were both musicians, he should have given to me.

He listened to one whole side of the record, and took off the earphones. "What do you think?" I asked. "It's
good isn't it?" He nodded. "This guitar player is wonderful," he said first. "I knew of him, of course, but his playing here is superb." He handed me back the earphones. "It's intriguing," he added. "You can hear how the players' timing drifts apart, you are almost in the band. It's like being in the middle of the band, in fact." My father had spent his life in the middle of many bands big and small, so he knew what he was talking about.