Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Art of Independent Jazz, Collected for Your Coffee Table

Posted By on 12.01.09 at 10:02 AM

Freedom Rhythm & Sound
  • Freedom Rhythm & Sound
Coffee table books seem to exist primarily to be gifts, but sometimes you have to buy one for yourself. I paid for my copy of the 179-page Freedom Rhythm & Sound: Revolutionary Jazz Original Cover Art 1965-83 (SJR), and if I actually had a coffee table this LP-size book would probably earn a spot on it.

Muhal Richard Abrams: Levels and Degrees of Light
  • Muhal Richard Abrams: Levels and Degrees of Light
The rationale behind the artwork selections made by ubiquitous British DJ and record collector Gilles Peterson and Stuart Baker (owner of Soul Jazz Records) is a bit loose; the focus is one some kind of independent spirit, which is able to accommodate labels that released music that seems diametrically opposed stylistically, from the free jazz of ESP-Disk to the heavy vibe of black consciousness that characterized Strata-East. Short essays consider the aesthetic associated with specific labels, graphic artists, regional scenes, musicians, and design templates. Unlike Blue Note: The Album Cover Art, which cohered around a consistent design philosophy, Freedom Rhythm & Sound is sprawling; it keeps things interesting, but it doesn’t always make sense. (There's also a two-CD companion set that features music from many of the albums featured in the book.)

Don Cherry: Organic Music Society
  • Don Cherry: Organic Music Society
Hundreds of album covers are included, some reproduced full-size, others arranged four to a page, and though I’m no expert on print quality, the images don’t seem as sharp and vibrant as they could’ve been. Still, it’s a pretty smart coffee table book that makes for several hours of pleasant distraction.

Today’s playlist:

Metros, Sweetest One (Dusty Groove/RCA Victor)
Raphael Imbert, N_Y Project (Zig-Zag Territories)
Niobe, Blackbird’s Echo (Tomlab)
Girls, Album (True Panther)
Matt Wilson Quartet, That’s Gonna Leave a Mark (Palmetto)

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