Jazz Albums as Art

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Jazz Albums as Art In the Process of Completing Research for This Issue, I Realized That What I Want to Say May Be Divided into Two Sections. Part One Surveys the General Topic of Album Art; Part Two (Outlined in the Accompanying Sidebar) Considers the Conspicuous Absence of Black Artists from the Process of Designing Jazz Packages: Covers, Liner Notes Etc. This Second Part Will Be Published in an Upcoming Issue.--R.G.O'M. The enclosed portfolio of album cover art springs from my ongoing concern with the emergence in the United States of a jazz culture that has affected not only virtually all other music, here and elsewhere, but other forms of expression as well. This influence has been exceedingly potent in the visual arts world where for nearly a century, painters, sculptors, photographers, and filmmakers have been inspired by jazz to create visual counterparts of the music. Working in varied media, artists have not only created likenesses of the musicians and their instruments, they have attempted to capture formal aspects of the music itself--its rhythms, call/response exchanges, and impulses to improvise--in the work that they do as visual artists who want their work to swing. In the process of pursuing these various lines of influence,(1) it has occurred to me that the jazz record album itself comprises a unique and significant item of American material culture (above all the covers but also the entire package, including the shellac, vinyl, and metal disks, the liner notes, and the sleeves and boxes that hold them). What follows here is a set of brief notes reflecting on the jazz record package or album as a unique multimedia creation deserving a comprehensive scholarly study and perhaps a museum show of... ... middle of paper ... ...ESCHICHTE UND ASTHETIK EINER SCHALLPLATTENVERPACKUN IN DEN USA NACH 1940 (Munchen: Scaneg, 1987). 3. See Martina Schmitz, "Facing the Music." PRINT 40 (March/April, 1986), pp. 88-99. 4. I refer to Sidney Finkelstein, JAZZ: A PEOPLES MUSIC (New York: Citadel Press, 1948). 5. Schmitz, ALBUM COVERS, p. 41 (Appendix). 6. Schmitz, "Facing the Music," p. 90. 7. Walter Herdeg, ed. RECORD COVERS (Zurich: Graphis Press, 1974). 8. Tom Piazza, SETTING THE TEMPO: FIFTY YEARS OF GREAT JAZZ LINER NOTES (New York: Doubleday, 1996). 9. Piazza, p. 1. 10. Piazza, p. 2. * * * Bibliography: INTL. REVIEW OF AFRICAN AMERICAN ART Vol. 14, No. 3, 1997, pp. 38-47 Copyright (c) 1997 INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF AFRICAN AMERICAN ART, which is published by the Hampton University Museum.
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