Paul Chambers Quintet, Blue Note Records LP 1564, 1957, design by Tom Hannan
I've mused rhapsodic on these pages previously about the early design legacy of New York's Blue Note Records, focusing mainly on the 10-inch LP era and such artists as Bill Hughes, John Hermansader, and Gil Melle. Recently, I saw a Japanese reissue of an early 12-inch and was struck by the abstract art design of the sleeve. With a little knuckle-grease and 'net digging, I learned that the cover was the work of a slightly obscure and now deceased artist named Tom Hannan whose story has some very interesting modernist intersections.
Bone & Bari, Curtis Fuller, Blue Note Records LP 1572, 1957, design by Tom Hannan
The Blue Note 1500 series of LPs reflect a time period (1955-1958) where the independent jazz record label was both in transition and starting to find its rhythm. These were the first releases in the new and soon to be dominant 12-inch format. Somewhere in the middle of the run (1562 to be exact) the discs started being released in both monaural and the popular new stereo format. It is when both the label and the medium came of age, if you will pardon the phrase. From a design perspective, it is during this series the Reid Miles began to come to prominence and by the end of the decade would be synonymous with the look of the label.
Hank Mobley, Blue Note Records LP 1560, 1957, design by Tom Hannan
Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins, Prestige Records LP 7075, 1956, design by Tom Hannan
Tom Hannan, c.1960, source unknown
Magenta and Blue, Hans Hofmann, 1950, Whitney Museum of Art collection
Back Table at the Five Spot, photo by Burt Glinn, 1957
Cu-Bop, Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers with Sabu and a Bongo, Jubilee Records 1049, 1958, design by Tom Hannan