Sunday 27 March 2016

Jazz album cover art by David Stone Martin

If you're lucky, a good album cover resonates almost as much as the music therein, but, of course luck has nothing to do with it. The most iconic artist in the field of jazz album cover design was David Stone Martin, an extraordinarily talented man who, often using a crowquill pen for the ink lines and a limited colour palette, captured the style of the music, no matter if it were bop or blues or orchestral jazz. Working for Norman Granz's Verve, Clef and Norgran labels, he designed over 200 distinctive sleeves in the 1950s, but his career continued into the 1980s, when he created cover art for various label, including Pablo, also owned by his friend and mentor, Granz.
Born in 1913, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago where he was heavily influenced by the work of Ben Shahn; in the 1930s and 40s, he worked for the Federal Artist Project and as the art director of The Tennessee Valley Authority. During World war II, he was an artist/correspondent for Life Magazine and when he returned to the States, he became a freelance illustrator, working on many projects such as billboards, magazines like The Saturday Evening Post and Reader's Digest, theatre and television. 
Mary Lou Williams, 78 rpm album, Asch Records, David Stone Martin
His involvement with Norman Granz came about as a result of a relationship with the pianist Mary Lou Williams in 1944. By 1950, he had already produced over 100 album covers for a variety of record labels such as Mercury and Dial.
He died in 1992, in New London Connecticut and is work is in collections in the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Smithsonian Institution.


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David Stone Martin - jazz album covers

Coleman Hawkins, 78 rpm album Asch Records, David Stone Martin

David Stone Martin's lovely artwork adorns the cover of Bud Powell's album Piano Interpretations. The 1956 album features George Duvivier on bass and Art Taylor on drums.

Lester Young

Slim Gaillard's 1947 record Opera in Vout (Groove Juice Special)

Bud Powell, Mercury/Clef 513, David Stone Martin

Me? I'm off to listen to the Charlie Parker Jam Session...

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