Blue Note Recordings’ breathtaking typographic album covers
The world of music today mourns the loss of a King. B.B. King, this rare gem of a game-changer that was beloved as well, died aged 89. “The blues legend pioneered a style – and did so with a grace that made him a hero to fans and musicians alike” writes Guardian’s Charles Shaar Murray. Creative and innovative, this virtuoso entertainer managed to introduce many to his world of blues, the same way Reid Miles’ inventive use of type introduced another music genre, jazz, to all those visual enthusiasts who discovered the artistic flair of Blue Note Recordings through his amazing artistry. Established in 1939 by Berlin-born Alfred Lion, Blue Note found its typographic voice in 1956, when Chicago-born Reid Miles decided to join this all-American label. “Miles made the cover sound like it knew what lay in store for the listener: an abstract design hinting at innovations, cool strides for cool notes, the symbolic implications of typefaces and tones” writes Felix Cromey in Blue Note: The Album Cover Art. His tight designs were an experiment of his, a unique way to play jazz with the letterform in an abstract, yet genius way. He “never settled into a typeface or system”, notes Richard Cook in Blue Note The Biography. “From Sonny Clark’s Cool Struttin, to Freddie Hubbard’s Hub-Tones, Milesmade sure that his sleeves were as heavyweight as the music inside” he added. A number of other designers contributed to what Blue Note came to be for people like Shawn Hazen who are after the typographic music gems of our times. Paul Bacon, John Hermansader, even Andy Warhol made a cameo appearance in the label’s gallery of music but it is thanks to Reid Mile’s stunning dynamic typographic treatment that made Blue Note Recordings the B.B. King of Album Covers.