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The lost art of album covers


Andrew Vogt


Louisiana Rocks



July 2007
Feature Articles

Music news, interviews, opinion

Colorado Correspondent

The lost art of album covers


By Dan DeMuth


"Bud Powell Piano," cover by David Stone MartinWhile one sure as hell can’t stop technology, it’s still OK to lament the loss of the more personal side of what it replaced. Miniaturization is the thing, of thee I sing. Don’t want practicality, just give me the bling. Can we be far away from speaking into a cellular receiver, and having it convert to a text message to avoid meaningful conversation? Wouldn’t that be full circle? Can electronic gadgets be made with buttons any smaller as to be more useless than they now are?


I am straying somewhat here, but my point is the loss of a type of connectivity we had with the musician and the musical theme with the demise of record albums and "Ben Webster with Strings," cover by David Stone Martintheir cover artwork. Forget for a moment the continuing debate between the purists, those who lament the ‘harsher or clearer’ sound of a CD versus the ‘softer more pliable’ sound of vinyl and the techies who snort in derision. Technology has given us cleaner sounds, especially with re-mastered older recordings, so there is a trade-off. And yes, the smaller unit is easier to store, both for the listener and the retailer and can be taken places and played that would be impossible with vinyl. But in the process we have lost the opportunity to easily read large liner notes, view detailed photos and gaze upon beautiful, innovative and creative artwork. Even some seven-inch, 45 rpm jazz EPs still offered a decent look of the matching, larger 12-inch LP from which they were culled. Anything smaller (CD, cassette, etc.) is virtually a lost cause. Finding great art on a CD cover is like going to the Louvre to look at postage stamps.


"Boogie Woogie," on 78 rpm set, cover by Burt GoldblattSome of the best-known contributors to album art were author and photographer Burt Goldblatt, who was responsible for more than 3,000 covers; David Stone Martin, to whom more than 250 covers are attributed; Tracy Sugarman, who contributed to more than 100 covers; and perhaps to a lesser degree, Arthur Shilstone. The latter two had very distinguished military careers in WWII. Shilstone went on to become a noted illustrator for many magazines and even NASA, his contributions illustrating LP covers being a little-known facet of his career.


"After Hours," cover by Arthur ShilstoneThese artists named are but a few who contributed to this era. Great album art was not limited to jazz, and didn’t start with the LP issues. Some 78 rpm album sets were graced with covers relating to what could be found inside. Some bore artwork relevant to the musicians to be heard and the instruments featured. As an example, David Stone Martin created a 78 rpm cover, circa 1950, which depicts Art Tatum at the piano, with only drawings of the guitar of Tiny Grimes and the bass of Slam Stewart, the obvious analogy being that legally blind Tatum needed only to hear the other two trio members.


"Lonesome Echo," cover by Salvador DaliClassical LPs would occasionally depict a perhaps avant-garde persona of the theme to be heard, and often sported reproductions of famous works of art on the covers.Schubert's "Death and the Maiden," as performed by Juilliard String Quartet, cover reproduction of famous artwork In the jazz idiom labels such as Bethlehem, Clef, Grand Award, Norgran, Prestige and Verve were the more frequent users of this art, but occasionally even a mainstream company such as Capitol would venture into the surreal, such as the 1955 cover of "Lonesome Echo," a Jackie Gleason album with Salvador Dali artwork.


The Decca label released a series of LPs with the "He Really Digs Jazz," from the "Music for the Boy Friend" series on Decca, cover by George Pettycovers graced with the curvaceous feminine artwork of George Petty, he of Esquire Magazine fame for his “Petty Girls” series. To my knowledge the old adage of “suitable for framing” was never used but would certainly have been apropos.


So what’s the tradeoff? Better sound but with the need of a magnifying glass just to read the liner notes? No artwork to stir up the gray matter? Things are supposed to get better with age, but hell, it’s hard to find a bartender anymore who knows how to make a decent Manhattan. Ain’t progress grand?



Some more great album covers...

"The Music of Buddy DeFranco," on 45 rpm EP, cover by David Stone Martin

"The Ink Spots," cover by Arthur Shilstone

"The Swingin' '30s," cover by Tracy Sugarman

"The Music of Buddy DeFranco,"

cover by David Stone Martin

"The Ink Spots,"

cover by Arthur Shilstone

"The Swingin' '30s,"

cover by Tracy Sugarman

"Jazz at the Philharmonic, Vol. 15," cover by David Stone Martin

"He Likes to Go Dancing," for the "Music for the Boy Friend" series on Decca, cover by George Petty

"Jazz at the Philharmonic, Vol. 9," cover by David Stone Martin

"Jazz at the Philharmonic, Vol. 15,"

cover by David Stone Martin

"He Like to Go Dancing,"

cover by George Petty

"Jazz at the Philharmonic, Vol. 9,"

cover by David Stone Martin

"Beethoven Trios," cover reproduction of famous artwork

"Progressive Jazz," cover by David Stone Martin

Sarah Vaughan's "Hot Jazz," cover by unknown artist

"Beethoven Trios," cover

reproduction of famous artwork

"Progressive Jazz,"

cover by David Stone Martin

Sarah Vaughan's "Hot Jazz,"

cover by unknown artist

Artist Interview

Former prairie boy turns mountain man


By Tom Ineck


In his lifetime, Andrew Vogt has evolved quite naturally—and without a plan—from a child of the Plains to a man of the Rocky Mountains, with a three-year detour to the Caribbean aboard a series of Carnival cruise ships.


Andrew Vogt [Photo courtesy Andrew Vogt]The multi-talented saxophonist got his start in music as a child in Lincoln, Neb., where he was influenced by his jazz-loving father and his many teachers, mentors and musician friends. During his three-year stint playing the cruise ships, he honed his playing technique and broadened his knowledge of the bedrock standards that every jazz musician worth his salt must learn. Since 2000, he has called Fort Collins, Colo., his home base, making frequent forays to gigs in the surrounding towns and nearby ski resorts.


Vogt came up through the Lincoln Public Schools system, which has a long history of high-quality music education. But his earliest influence was closer to home.


“My dad has been a jazz fan for many, many years,” Vogt recalled in a recent phone interview from his home. “I think he went to see Dave Brubeck live way back when, and he had a really nice record collection of Cannonball Adderley, Brubeck, Stan Getz. He has the soundtrack, on vinyl, to ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s,’ by Henry Mancini. It’s a sweet album. I have it on cassette, and I cherish that record. I loved it back then, when I didn’t know what the heck they were doing, and I still love it. I listened to it the other day.” He also ranks the recordings of saxophonists Art Pepper and Zoot Sims among his favorites.


Several longtime Lincoln jazz musicians and educators had an early impact, including saxophonists Ed Love and Scott Vicroy and the early version of the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra, then called the Neoclassic Jazz Orchestra. When he entered the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Music, he came under the influence of saxophonist Dave Sharp, who helped him land some of his first commercial gigs. And, Vogt feels especially close to Lincoln keyboard whiz, teacher and friend John Carlini. 


Vogt, too, is an educator, running instrumental programs for a few hours a week at local Catholic and Lutheran schools and maintaining a studio for individual instruction.   


Cruise ship life can have its ups and downs—including officers who show little respect and audiences who all but ignore you—but Vogt considers himself luckier than most jazz musicians during his own extended maritime period.


“My review of my experience is much more positive than most musicians,” he said. “I was fortunate to be able to work on ships that were more jazz-oriented, and I was fortunate to work with this piano player named Murray Jackman, who was a retired five-star admiral. He had hands the size of elephants and sounded like three Oscar Petersons in one. He knew a million tunes, and we got to be good friends.”


Andrew Vogt at work [Photo courtesy Andrew Vogt]Besides, the snorkeling was good and the Hungarian barmaids were beautiful. Even so, Vogt decided after three years at sea that he had had enough.


“You do your stint. It’s time to move on. It’s sort of like not reality out there.”  


In retrospect, his career moves seem logical, even calculated, but Vogt insists he doesn’t make plans.


“It wasn’t really like a plan of mine or anything,” he says, laughing. “Most times, when I seem to make a plan, it doesn’t really work out that way.”


Vogt’s parents first made the move from Nebraska to Colorado quite a few years ago, so between cruise ship jobs, Andrew would visit his family. He soon grew very fond of the natural setting and the jazz-friendly climate.   


“I just love it out here,” Vogt said. “I’m kind of a mountain boy, really. I love to go hiking. I love Colorado and the Front Range and living in Fort Collins. You’ve got Boulder and Denver nearby and other areas and all these resort towns, up in the mountains. There are gigs flying all over the place!”


“It just kind of happened this way, you know!” he tries to explain, as though his good fortune—absent a plan—surprises even him. “It’s a nice blend. I’m not really a coast kind of kind. I’m a little bit of a hick. I just love the Midwest, but yet I also like getting up into these higher elevations, where the humidity isn’t so heavy. It’s just a ball out here, and I’m having a great time.”


Some of the fun is in being able to play with world-class musicians, some who are natives of the area and some, like Vogt, who have migrated to the mountains from other parts of the country. The area seems especially fertile ground for keyboard players.


“There are some fantastic players in this Boulder-Fort Collins-Denver area, particularly piano players, and I’ve always had a real connection with piano players,” Vogt said. Many of the best players are products of the area’s music schools, both teachers and students. The University of Northern Colorado at Greeley has produced the best big band in the country for the last couple of years, he said, and there also are significant jazz music programs at the University of Denver, the University of Colorado at Boulder and Colorado State University in Fort Collins.


Vogt blowing tenor sax on a gig [Photo courtesy Andrew Vogt]With more than 40 summer gigs scheduled for a wide array of venues and bands, Vogt says his dog-eared playing calendar is second only to the Bible in his esteem. His busy schedule ranges from regular performances at clubs like Jay’s Bistro in Fort Collins’ Old Town section to dance parties at the local swimming pool and private affairs at the country club to venues farther afield, like Finnegan’s Wake in Avon, the Blue River Bistro in Breckenridge, the Culture Club in Steamboat Springs, Spendido’s in Beaver Creek, the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, and Snowville in Vail.


The names of bands and styles of music shift almost as frequently as the venues. Depending on the occasion, Vogt might take the stage with Mark Sloniker and friends, the funk-rock Jonny Mogambo Band, the Swing Essence Quartet, Big Black Cadillac or fronting his own trio or quartet.


“There are half a dozen regular groups that I’m first-call for, and there are other things that come up, too,” he said, describing the typical frenetic pace of a versatile, sought-after saxophonist. Vogt keeps track of his upcoming performances with regular updates on his new website at www.drewsblues.com, which also contains the requisite biography, discography, news coverage, media photographs and contact information.


Most exciting for Vogt’s creative side is the recent formation of a quartet featuring Vogt’s horns, in addition to guitar, bass and drums and tentatively called ZARO, after the first names of the players. They have been rehearsing new tunes in the hopes of establishing a long-term relationship, every jazz musician’s dream.


“There are so many gigs that I play where I just step in and do it right now,” Vogt said. “You’ve got to hit it right on the spot. That’s how it is with a lot of jazz players.” Unlike that off-the-cuff, impromptu performance ethic, the more democratic and dedicated ZARO presents a clearer path for artistic growth.


“We rehearse Sundays, early in the afternoon. We’re trying to put together a whole bunch of unusual stuff, progressive stuff, tricky stuff that you wouldn’t call on a gig. That requires rehearsal. It’s an opportunity for me to work with more original material. We’re putting together all kinds of crazy stuff.”


That is not to say that Vogt doesn’t appreciate the jazz standards and blues progressions that form the core of every professional jazz musician’s play list.


“I love the doing the standards. At the same time, it’s just great to get together with some guys and just rehearse, put together our dream music.” The band already has a couple of bookings in August, including the three-day NewWestFest, which annually draws more than 100,000 people to downtown Fort Collins.


“It’s a gradual work-in-progress, but the idea is that we’re going to be playing a lot, hopefully doing more festivals. There are a lot of festivals in the mountains that we can take advantage of.”


Vogt (right) with Rich Chiaraluce [Photo courtesy Andrew Vogt]Vogt is featured on several recordings, including the excellent 2003 release by the Jason Hollar Jazz Quartet. Hollar, a bassist, wrote some of the tunes, but it was Vogt who dominated the proceedings on alto, tenor and baritone saxes and clarinet. For a review of that CD, click here.


Vogt claims that his latest release and his first as a leader, “Action Plan,” is the only plan he’s ever had that came to fruition as imagined. It features other Rocky Mountain greats Rich Chiaraluce on reeds, pianist Mark Sloniker, bassist Eric Applegate and drummer Mark Raynes, in addition to trumpeter Kevin Whalen on two tracks. For a review of the CD, click here.


He’s already at work on the next recording.


“I’m sitting down at the piano and working out ideas quite a bit,” Vogt said. “I hope to be in the studio this fall to do some more stuff and get the next disc out.”


That sounds suspiciously like a plan.




Musical treasure awaits at end of the road


By Tom Ineck


Klea Blackhurst [Courtesy Photo]BROWNVILLE, Neb.—The 80-mile road trip from Lincoln to this quaint Missouri River town in southeast Nebraska is always an adventure, especially when it involves compatible travel companions and a world-class concert at the end of the road.


Such was the case June 24, when Butch and Grace Berman, my wife, Mary Jane, and I headed to the Brownville Concert Hall for a 2 p.m. performance featuring Klea Blackhurst and Billy Stritch in “Dreaming of a Song,” their collaborative tribute to the music of Hoagy Carmichael.


Billy Stritch [Courtesy Photo]As arranged by Stritch, the music was not jazz in the strict sense of the word, but the type of well-staged musical theater presentation that you might expect in an intimate Broadway theater, a classy New York City supper club or an upscale hotel lounge. Throughout their three-day booking—with evening cabaret shows on Friday and Saturday, in addition to the Sunday matinee—Blackhurst and Stritch delivered the goods with thorough professionalism, despite the incongruity of performing in a quiet backwater burg like Brownville, Nebraska’s oldest town.


Certainly the musical professionalism was aided by bassist Gerald Spaits and drummer Ray DeMarchi, who drove up from their homes in Kansas City, Mo., to accompany the duo. Stritch, a brilliant pianist, singer, musical supervisor and arranger who has worked with Liza Minnelli, Charles Aznavour and others, had written the charts will little room for improvisational forays, and Spaits and DeMarchi delivered note-perfect performances throughout the 90-minute show.


Many listeners were familiar with such Carmichael classics as “Georgia on My Mind,” “Stardust,” “Skylark,” “The Nearness of You,” “I Get Along Without You Very Well,” and “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,” but the 22-song play list also contained little-known gems like “One Morning in May,” “When Love Goes Wrong,” and “My Resistance is Low.” In their informal introductions, Blackhurst and Stritch also provided interesting, often humorous background on the composer and his tunes.


Blackhurst on ukulele [Courtesy Photo]Both Blackhurst and Stritch are excellent singers and complement each other’s styles. Known for her Ethel Merman tributes, Blackhurst can belt it out with a verve and gusto reminiscent of that iconic songstress, especially on jazzy numbers like “Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief,” “Riverboat Shuffle” and “Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love.” Stritch kept a firm grasp on the harmonic helm at the grand piano, while also harmonizing vocally and occasionally taking the spotlight, such as a lively take on “Georgia,” a lovely “Stardust” and a rocking rendition of “The Old Music Master,” where he also displayed his considerable piano chops.


On “Lazy River,” Stritch did the vocalizing while Blackhurst showed her instrumental prowess by providing rhythm accompaniment on the ukulele, giving the tune an appropriately old-time quality.  


Blackhurst and Stritch still are developing the thematic Carmichael program and plan to record a well-honed version this fall. Those lucky enough to catch one of the Brownville performances witnessed a stunning work-in-progress.    


Brownville Concert Hall [Courtesy Photo]Now in its 17th season, the Brownville Concert Series continues to offer world-class artists in an attractive venue that respects their artistry. I have attended several superb performances at the concert hall (formerly a church) over the years, including appearances by jazz pianist Joe Cartwright in 1992, classical pianist Ian Hobson in 1993, jazz trumpeter Warren Vache in 1994, jazz saxophonist Bobby Watson in 1997 and jazz singer Tierney Sutton in 2005. The room’s excellent acoustics make it ideal for jazz and classical music and guarantee a memorable listening experience. Bravo! 



Rock and Roll

Planned book proves that "Louisiana Rocks"


Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from "Louisiana Rocks: The True Genesis of Rock and Roll," an unpublished 560-page manuscript by Tom Aswell of Denham Springs, La. As the writer shops the manuscript to prospective publishers, he has suggested that the Berman Music Foundation feature pieces from the book. We begin with the entry on the Boogie Kings, a band that was featured here several years ago with writings submitted by Boogie Kings member Ned Theall. Readers who wish to correspond with Aswell can reach him by e-mail at azspeak@bellsouth.net.


Boogie Kings [File Photo]The Boogie Kings began as a group back in the mid-fifties in the little seventies town of Eunice. Little did anyone know then that the band would endure despite changes in personnel and musical tastes as well as internal turmoil and lawsuits over the band’s name. But as the new millennium dawned, they were still rocking, bigger than ever as one of the greatest bands never to have a hit record. From the beginning the band built a following in seventies and the Texas Golden Triangle area of Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange—a following that remains loyal to their music.


Band members comprised an honor roll of Louisiana swamp pop, some of whom had major hits as solo artists: Bert Miller, Tommy McLain ("Sweet Dreams"), Clint West ("Big Blue Diamonds," "Try To Find Another Man"), G.G. Shinn, Ned Theall, Dwayne Yates, Jerry Lacroix, Linda Clark, Norris Badeaux, Mike Pollard, Murphy Buford, Dan Silas, and Doug Ardoin. The horn section alone was nothing short of spectacular.


The band, which had never played outside Acadiana, purchased seven different tuxedos for each band member—one for each day of the week—and began seeking bookings in Houston and New Orleans. While they were packing the houses in those two markets, a Las Vegas agent booked them into Reno, Tahoe, Vegas, Hollywood and San Francisco.


In Hollywood, The Righteous Brothers were in the audience and after the show Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield approached the band members and congratulated them for their show.


On another occasion, the band was booked into Ball’s Auditorium in Houston before an all-black audience. B.B. King did the first show and stayed around to hear the Boogie Kings before a packed house. After the band had played a few songs, Reginald Ball, owner of the auditorium, came onstage to say that King wanted to join the band for a few songs. The crowd was already going crazy for the Boogie Kings and when B.B. joined them, pandemonium reigned and the more enthusiastic the crowd got, the better the band played and the better the band played, the more enthusiastic the crowd became. Afterwards, King told them they were the blackest band he’d ever heard.


Drugs, pills, booze, and women were beginning to take their toll on the band that, because its initial album was released as “Clint West and the Boogie Kings,” now had West as its ex-officio leader. At the same time, West, who was having marital problems, was beginning to miss occasional gigs, much to the growing consternation of other band members. One fateful night, the band was booked into the Continental Club in Beaumont and West had not shown up. Ned Theall was sitting on the organ bench at nine o’clock cursing the fact that there was no drummer and, consequently, no show, when a kid walked up and asked, “What’s wrong?”


Theall tried to explain that the boy wouldn’t understand but he was persistent, so he told him, “Our drummer didn’t show up and we can’t play without a drummer.”


“I can cut the gig,” the kid, an albino, said.


Theall told him he was too young to understand the band’s music. Again, he said, “I can cut the gig.”


“How long you been playing drums?” asked Theall.


“I’m not a drummer, I’m a trumpet player, but I can cut the gig.”


“What’s your name?” Theall asked, by now intrigued at the kid’s confidence that bordered on cockiness, as well as his stubborn streak.


"Edgar Winter.”


Theall told him he had one shot, that he’d let him play one song and if he proved good enough, he could play the gig. His instincts told him to give the kid a chance. The difficulty lay in convincing skeptical band members. Sensing deep down that Winter really was capable of playing the gig, Theall let him sit in. He was right. Winter aced the test on the first song and stayed on, never missing a beat all night and in the opinion of at least some of the band members, played better than West on some of the songs.


All good things must end and the band members grew increasingly disenchanted with West’s leadership or lack of leadership, as the case may have been. The Moulin Rouge Club made Clint an offer of a partnership with the club splitting the profits fifty-fifty, with West getting 20 percent of the fifty and the band to split the remaining 30 percent. The band was the house band for the Bamboo Club so a vote was taken at the end of 1964. West had to reject the Moulin Rouge offer and return to the Bamboo, or leave the band. Theall gave him the news right after a New Year’s Eve show and West subsequently left the band.


A lengthy legal fight over use of the Boogie Kings name ensued with Theall eventually winning out. West signed with Floyd Soileau’s Swallow record label in Ville Platte while the remainder of the band went with S.J. Montalbano’s Montel Records in Baton Rouge. And the band(s) played on.




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