Sometime ago I wrote a post for the KCRW blog about some of my favorite jazz record covers. (http://blogs.kcrw.com/musicnews/2010/07/5-favorite-jazz-record-covers-from-dj-tom-schnabel/) It featured albums by Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and others.
Recently I visited the great exhibition Living in a Modern Way / California Design 1930-65. It features classic Eames furniture, Case Study houses, Barbie Dolls, Bauer ceramics, even Studebaker Avantis. California-based design extended into the graphic arts as well: the exhibition features some great album covers. I wanted to mention a few of them here. One is the great Otto Preminger film from the 1950s starring Frank Sinatra as a junkie, The Man with the Golden Arm, with music by Elmer Bernstein and the jazz combo of trumpeter Shorty Rogers and his Giants. Another was the cool latin sound of the Cal Tjader Quintet. The first was a classic cut-up, the second animated what became known as the West Coast Sound, purveyed largely by the Pacific Jazz photos of Bill Claxton and other top animators. The third was Jazz Canto, an album of jazz and poetry.
Here are those three classic album covers: