My record collection is growing every day and what attracts me to purchasing an album apart from the music is the sleeve design.
For this post, I dove into my collection and hand-picked my favorite jazz covers.
Also have a look at Jazz Album Cover Designs That Inspire – Part 1.
Mulatu Of Ethiopia – Mulatu Astatke
1972 / Worthy Records 1020 / photo uncredited / Matt Thame (RE design)
The Father of Ethio-jazz, Mulatu Astatke, brings a fantastic arrangement of Ethiopian fine tone scale mixed with Afro-American soul and jazz. The album is called Mulatu Of Ethiopia.
The cover photo and design remain uncredited but it’s a true eye-catcher. It features the title, a photograph of Mulatu Astatke posing in front of his vibraphone, and in the bottom left corner the logo of his sponsor, Ethiopian Airlines.
The copy I own is a reissue that I purchased at a concert in Prague. The outside design is identical to the original but inside the album, we find additional photography including a picture of a much older Mulatu Astatke holding his original record from 1972.
Chris Dave And The Drumhedz
2018 / Blue Note B002705401 / c. BARR @n8tivalien (artwork)
Blue Note Records describes this album as a place without genre, where elements of funk, soul, gospel, hip-hop, and jazz mix until they’re an indistinguishable surging mass of solid groove.
The artwork was created by creative artist c. BARR.
People Of The Sun – Marcus Strickland Twi-Life
2018 / Blue Note B002898301 / Stan Squirewell (artwork) / Leon Williams (photo)
This is saxophonist Marcus Strickland’s second studio album for Blue Note Records but, this is the first time he released his work on vinyl. People Of The Sun is a contemporary jazz album influenced by hip-hop and modern r&b.
You can see that they wanted to do something special for his first vinyl release. For the artwork, they hired the painter Stan Squirewell. Squirewell’s work is described as multilayered and explores identity and heritage. The photo is from the Brooklyn based photographer Leon Williams.
Gling-Gló – Björk Guðmundsdóttir & tríó Guðmundar Ingólfssonar
1990 / Smekkleysa SM 27 / Óskar Jónasson (artwork)
I’m not sure if I can pronounce the name of this band correctly but, this is a jazz album with the 24 years old Björk on vocals. Several songs are covers of jazz standards but sung in Icelandic. The music is as charming as the left-field pop she would later record.
The artwork is from the Icelandic film director and screenwriter Óskar Jónasson who was Björk’s boyfriend at the time.
The copy in my collection is a reissue on One Little Indian. The album was repressed on a 45 rpm double-12-inch vinyl to improve the sound quality and several songs were added. The sleeve design was kept the same and the tracklist was not revised. On the reissue sleeve you still see only 2 sides while in reality, we have 4. Be aware to play the reissue at 45rpm! There is no indication on the sleeve nor on the label about this.
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane
1965 / Impulse! A-77 / George Grey (design) / Bob Thiele (photo) / Victor Kalin (sketch)
An album that needs no introduction. Coltrane called this album his gift to God.
This gatefold sleeve features the same picture of Coltrane on the back as on the front. The picture was taken by record producer Bob Thiele who was at the time the head of the Impulse! record company. When folding open the record sleeve, a sketch of Trane playing the saxophone appears. The sketch was made by artist Victor Kalin who is best known for his illustrations for magazines, paperback books, and record albums. He, for example, also illustrated the albums: Rockin’ In Rhythm by Duke Ellington (DL 79247), Mingus Plays Piano by Charles Mingus (A-60), and again Coltrane for the album Expression (AS-9120).