Today is Record Store Day across the country and across the globe. Many are celebrating the resurgence of vinyl. A very good article worth reading is by, Jeff Meirs of the Buffalo News, on the return of vinyl in an era of digitizing every aspects of music and daily life.
For many of us, we came to know jazz through the jazz album and the packaging of music, album cover art, and liner notes. What the youth may be discovering today is the fascination with combing through vinyl record covers and taking in the art of the jazz album cover. Discovering the quick flip to the backside to learn more about the artist and the tunes. This experience is hard to duplicate with CD's or via downloading vanilla tracks.
Album covers were a true work of art. In the jazz world, Blue Note, Prestige, Impulse, Verve, and others gave us memorable album covers. With one view, we knew instantly what we were about to experience and hear. Some of my favorites were from Blue Note – such as these three classics:
Learning Through Liner Notes
What is missing in the digital world is the experience of learning about jazz and jazz artists through the journalistic art of liner notes. There was a connection, which happened between the reader and the artist. Putting the record on, listening, and diving deep into the liner notes to understand the intent of the artist. We were eager to find out what the story was behind the music and to view as well as listen through the lens of a notable journalist and historian.
Three of best liner notes journalists, historians, and authors were Leonard Feather, Doug Morgenstern, and Ira Gitler. Each provided memorable liner notes and compelling stories. Painting and waxing visual images and history about a certain artist. Some liner notes were so lengthy, they took the entire album music time to read. Through these historians and journalist, we came to know the jazz artist on a personal level.
Here is Ira Gitler talking about Art Tatum, who he considered to be one of the greatest jazz pianists to ever live:
And here is a very rare radio interview of Leonard Feather interviewing Charlie Parker in 1951:
Today, being Record Store Day, is a good day to remember the role vinyl played in making jazz what it is today. The art of jazz became memorable through music, album cover art, and the gifts of jazz journalists and historians. A wonderful memory it is.