Sketches to work out Eddie's arms and legs.
Harold and Eddie
posted: March 15, 2013
My favorite new client, Milan Music in Paris, is re-issuing a lot of great American music and film soundtracks.They recently called for a couple of CD covers. The first is for a collection of songs composed by Harold Arlen, who wrote the music for “The Wizard of Oz” plus a lot of songs that have become standards of the American Songbook. Arlen had a long career writing for Broadway shows and Hollywood movies. I imagined him at work in a “David Hockney meets Mister Magoo” version of his Beverly Hills home.
The second cover is for a collection of hits by Eddie Cochran, the sharp-dressing rockabilly star whose career was cut short in a car accident when he was 21. Eddie made a lot of records from 1957-1960, and is probably best known for “Somethin’ Else” and “Summertime Blues.”
posted: June 25, 2012
Here’s the second in the series of CD covers I’m doing for the wonderful French record label, Editions Milan Music. The entire brief I received from them was two words, “Fats Domino.” There’s probably no other living artist that’s more associated with New Orleans than Fats. He rarely leaves town, and he even turned down an invitation to the White House because he didn’t want to travel; he says he can’t find the food he likes anywhere except the Crescent City. I had the idea to make Fats bigger than life and sitting on the rooftops of the town he loves. One building is also an upright piano and the Dew Drop Café is his stool. There’s a little bit of Magoo and UPA in this one
posted: June 1, 2012
Here’s a piece for the Playboy Jazz Festival Program to accompany an article by Don Heckman about the state of big bands in America today. Some think of big bands as dinosaurs but if you do some digging you can find a pretty vital scene in almost every major city. This piece certainly shows the influence of Jim Flora and the great Cliff Roberts. I’ve been doing illustrations for the annual festival for about twenty-five years now, but still no invitation to the mansion.
posted: February 10, 2012
Got a call (well, e-mail) from Milan records in France asking if I’d be interested in doing some jazz record covers. My answer was yes, and the first one is for the great Nina Simone. Here’s the liner notes: Nina Simone (Nina pour « la gamine » en espagnol. Simone en hommage à Signoret.) La trajectoire de Nina Simone (née Eunice Kathleen Waymon) est unique. Elle porte une vision artistique et politique, une musique qui transcende les genres musicaux et les préjugés. « Je veux secouer les gens en profondeur, délibérément. Quand ils sortent de mon concert, je veux qu’ils soient en pièces. » C’est dans cet état que l’on se retrouvera en écoutant les titres de ce collector : en pièces, mais aussi réjouis et libérés. Paul Rogers La couverture originale de cet album a été réalisée par l’un des plus grands illustrateurs américains actuels : Paul Rogers. Passionné de musique et de jazz, il a travaillé en particulier pour Wynton Marsalis et Bob Dylan.
The art director Franck Laurent, wanted a bluesy drawing of Nina at the piano, I kept thinking of this book cover by one of my all-time favorites, Miguel Covarrubias. The blue color was my idea.
Wynton Marsalis 50th Birthday
posted: October 15, 2011
It doesn’t happen every day that you meet one of your heroes. When that meeting turns into a friendship and then a collaboration, you know you’ve been blessed. Wynton and I met almost twenty years ago, for a poster project that we both signed. Since then I designed a poster for The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival that depicted him in his Crescent City hometown, we’ve worked together on two books, and I spent a week out on the road with him and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra making sketchbook drawings. Wynton has won a Pulitzer, nine Grammys and numerous other citations and honors, he has been an inspiration to many, many musicians and people who are making their way in the world as artists. Whenever we meet, he always acknowledges the accomplishment of survival with the words “So, we’re still out here.” I’ve admired so much about him, the way he leads fifteen of the greatest jazz musicians of any era in the JALC Orchestra, the way he sits with young musicians who bring their instruments to a concert hoping for advice from the maestro, and his thoughtful writing and lectures on the important place that jazz music holds in our history and culture. I’ve seen him working on a symphony in a hotel room with no piano, and I’ve seen him stay late after a gig talking to fans until it’s just him and the guy locking the place up. Tuesday is Wynton’s 50th birthday. There has been a week-long series of concerts at JALC’s Rose Theater featuring special guests and some serious swing. I wish I was there acknowledging the accomplishment.
Here's a preview of our second book for Candlewick Press, our first book, Jazz ABZ is still in print, (turns out kids love books with Coleman Hawkins in them.) The new book is a picture book for young readers about sounds titled Squeak, Rumble, Whomp Whomp Whomp! We're trying to get it finished while we're still on this earth. It's scheduled for Fall 2012.
posted: February 12, 2011
Here’s a recent drawing I did for Omega Lifestyles Magazine of the bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding. She’s nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Artist category, she’ll have to beat out a girl named Justin Beiber.
Sunday's NYT Book Review
posted: November 1, 2010
Cathy Gilmore-Barnes at The New York Times called for a portrait of Stephen Sondheim to accompany a review of Sondheim’s new book of annotated lyrics. The review was written by another great songwriter, Paul Simon. My job was to not screw it up.
Jazz ABZ at The Cummer Museum
posted: January 11, 2010
The Cummer Museum of Art in Jacksonville, Florida is mounting an exhibition of the illustrations for the book Wynton Marsalis and I did together, Jazz ABZ: A Collection of Jazz Portraits. The show runs from January 20th through August 8th 2010. I’ll be giving a talk at the museum on Tuesday, January 26.
The book was a project I started without a publisher. I had the idea for an abecedary of jazz musicians, made a list of one for each letter of the alphabet, and started working on the images in-between my other assignments. Because there was no deadline, and there was the strong possibility that these would never see the light of day, I decided to do whatever I wanted with them, and to borrow (you're right . . . steal) from the artists I admired from each era that the jazz musician is associated with. The list of artists includes Stuart Davis, Paul Rand, Miquel Covarrubias, the forgotten French designer Pierre Merlin, Al Hirshfeld, Juan Gris, David Stone Martin, and Alex Steinweiss.
When Jazz ABZ was published I sent a copy of the book to Mr. Steinweiss, with a note telling him he was a big inspiration on the project, and I hoped he‘d like the book. Steinweiss was the first artist to design graphics for album covers in 1940 for Columbia Records, he’s 92 and living in Sarasota, FL. About a week later I received a note back saying very nice things about the book and inviting me to visit him if I was ever in Florida, so after the opening, Jill and I are driving down to spend a few hours with the master. If you haven't seen the new Taschen book on Steinweiss career, here's a link.
Lester Young on WKCR
posted: August 12, 2009
This month marks the centennial of the saxophonist Lester Young. His music is filled with the vitality and sadness of life; he influenced countless musicians, was Billie Holiday’s favorite musician and contributed as much to the spirit of American life as any artist you can think of.
Nicknamed “Prez,” Young was a gentle and soulful man who had a way of expressing himself through words that was as creative and influential as his music. He called his friends “ladies,” coined the term “cool,” and once, after seeing a fellow patron at a bar fall off a stool asked the bartender for “whatever he was having.” Prez left a jazz club one night after being spotted sitting in back listening to the music because he didn’t “dig being dug while I’m digging.”
WKCR is celebrating by playing a lot of Lester Young all this month. My friend, Phil Schaap is devoting his Monday and Saturday shows to Prez and on his birthday, August 27th, there will be 24 hours of Lester Young. Actually, it will be a three-day festival combined with Charlie Parker’s birthday on August 29th
Here's the portrait of Prez from the book I did with Wynton Marsalis Jazz ABZ. Young played with The Count Basie Band in Kansas City in the early days. I read that the Reno Club was so small the bass player stood outside in the alley and leaned in a window to play. John Hammond heard the band on a tiny short-wave radio station and drove all night from Chicago to sign Basie to a recording contract.
One for Victor
posted: March 18, 2009
This one went very smoothly thanks to Center Theatre Group’s gracious art director Charity Capili. I let her know that I’d be happy to design separate pieces to fit the important applications, and we worked together on light pole banners, program covers and a large 19-foot banner for the Music Center plaza. She does owe me a drink at the bar.