Blue Note: The Album Cover Art

Everything about the Blue Note label in the late 1950s and early 1960s bespoke cool. Musicians such as Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Hank Mobley and Jackie McLean cut their best works there, creating the gospel/blues/bebop hybrid dubbed “hard bop.” Its some of the most-loved, most accessible and highest quality jazz ever put down. It’s also among the best-recorded; engineer extraordinaire Rudy Van Gelder taped nearly every Blue Note session, capturing a natural sound that managed to be at once warm and full, tough and edgy. The Blue Note logo stood out as a mark of quality: solid state music, jazz of the best type.

Blue Note even had a cool corporate philosophy. Label founders Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff loved the music and its creators, and treated them with respect. Where other labels released dozens of albums based on quickie blowing sessions, Blue Note gave musicians time to rehearse, and even paid them for it. Players had a few days to prepare arrangements and practice tunes before the tapes started rolling, and the results showed it.

And topping it all off, Blue Note had those covers. Distinguished by Lions dramatic, deep shadow musician portraits and designer Reid Miles imaginative typography, Blue Notes album jackets are beloved not just by jazz fans, but by graphic artists and lovers of great design.

Blue Note 1500 series - jazz album covers