Saturday, 3 October 2009

Classic Album Covers #2 - Ornette Coleman

This next cover isn't even one of Coleman's greatest records but both sides of the sleeve combine to sublime effect and the whole style marked a tipping point in jazz album design.

This sleeve was put together by Forlenza Venosa Associates - an ads, promo and music publishing company formed in 1966, when the former Columbia Records editor and art director Bob Venosa joined the fledgling Forlenza Associates. 

For the past decade, the style of the Blue Note label had been dictated by designer Reid Miles, who had interpreted a string of landmark titles literally with smart modernist designs and Francis Wolff's noir-ish, two-tone photography.

With Venosa on board, however, they began to introduce increasingly wild, Afro-psychedelic art to the label's album sleeves, no doubt encouraged by his time spent hanging out with Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix.

However, for a year or two in the late 1960s, they turned out a string of covers that bridged the gap between the monochrome mod classicism of the early Reid Miles sleeves and the crazier excesses of the post-1970 designs. 

Venosa worked on a number of classics, including Donald Byrd's Slow Drag, Lonnie Smith's Think!, Hank Mobley's Reach Out and Bobby Hutcherson's Total Eclipse, but for sheer atmosphere and timeless style, this wins it for me.

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