Hottest Jazz LP Covers Ever. Poll included. Updated.


ljc-Santa-smokeMore late entries! I’ve caved in under pressure, 18 late entries join the foot of the post and added to the Poll. It’s only a bit of Christmas fun isn’t it?

No LJC, covers is serious. Nice blog. Shame if anything were to happen to it. More Sonny Clark covers, now!

antarctica-bear-headphones97% of jazz collectors agree these are the hottest covers ever, and though some of them may be attributed  to human influence, the residents of Saturn and The Spaceways remain under suspicion. The Inter-Planetary Commission on LP Covers  will predict how hot future covers may be. For now, we have our reader’s hottest. If the planet drowns, tough!

You have all had the chance to nominate your favourites, well done all who put in their list.  I’ve added my own below, avoiding duplication (Undercurrent!). At the end of the post there is a poll so you can vote for your preferred among the hundred nominees. There are probably over a hundred thousand  jazz LPs in existence, if your favourites aren’t here it is because no-one nominated them (did you?)  Because it’s Christmas, I have added some late entries, my treat, you can vote for not ten, not fifteen, but twenty favourites.

These are  my nine personal choices below, you can see where I’m coming from:   I like black and white or two tone, because this is graphic design and retro, not travel photos.  Portraiture cements the relationship between the musician and the instrument. Then record = hearing,  cover = seeing, great music, great covers, brings it all together.

LJC’s Favourites (I have all originals, for real)


These were the Reader Nominations (see late entries at foot of post)










Late Entries – by popular request

(As entries after polling has started, votes for this selection may understate their true popularity)



Let Voting Commence….

There are just over 100 listed LP covers, nominated by LJC readers. They are listed in alphabetical order by artist last name, so don’t overlook the terrific Larry Young Unity cover because it is at the end. (Any polling novices out there, remember: mirror, signal, manoeuvre…)  You have up to TWENTY votes to cast, don’t worry, Polldaddy keeps count, when you hit 20, it stops allowing any more, you can review and change before voting. The public vote is final,  Four out of Five covers will be going home…

You must vote in one session and you can’t revisit or change your votes – cookies block it, so be sure you have made all your choices before pressing the vote now button.

The cumulative result can be viewed at any time – look in to see how your favourites are doing.  Polls close in One Week – the Polldaddy Maximum allowed. The LJC 24-hour Helpline Call Centre are going off to their Christmas Party, so you are on your own.. Good Luck!



Merry Christmas, and a Jazzy New Year

♪♫♪ LJC


62 thoughts on “Hottest Jazz LP Covers Ever. Poll included. Updated.

  1. I just stumbled over the “Hottest Cover Contest”.
    I am very surprised not to see a single example of the great David Stone Martin drawings in the readers choice. DSM covers really combine graphic art with the music content.
    Just an observation


    • Willie, observe away, this is a free speech zone. (And bathroom of your own choosing) Personally I am not great on DSM. Warhol covers are lovely but simply too expensive, and the covers I really love are Jim Flora but the music inside (RCA, lots) is generally so disappointing.

      I’m plotting some more cover topic flyovers soon, including (strictly entre-nous) girlie covers! ( Gender-agnostics will just have to grin and bear it – whatever “it” is) Now there is a challenge.


  2. Can we have another poll for the best album cover featuring smoking a cigarette?

    One of my favourites if Red Garland’s High Pressure, featuring smoke and possibly booze (I like to think he’s drinking a rum punch.)


  3. After my post down much lower protesting negativity and rudeness in commenting, behold, my hypocritical list of head-scratching poll results!

    Could someone explain the appeal of Andrew Hill’s Judgment cover…? I find Point of Departure, Compulsion, and Black Fire (my favorite) all more visually stimulating…? Also with Destination Out, I personally find the It’s Time (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) cover to be done in a similar vein but more appealing (I think Let Freedom Ring and Right Now are also don in this style)…?

    The Way Out West cover to me is corny! 😛

    The Midnight Blue cover is quite plain to me graphically though I do think the color choices compliment the music perfectly. Rollins 1558 is plain to me too, and beside the great camera angle for The Big Beat cover photo, the colors, fonts, and layout are also quite plain to me.

    I’m surprised that Night Dreamer made it as a late entry but Speak No Evil didn’t!


  4. I’ll mention this here simply to spread the word to those who may be interested…

    i have just finished reading a brilliant present from my daughters – BEYOND JAZZ: Plink, Plonk and Scratch – The Golden Age of Free Music in London 1968-72 by Trevor Barre (Compass Publishing).

    I know one or two folks here are at least curious about the rise of free music – or free improvised music – and might welcome a shortish and accessible book about its early origins in England during the late-60s. Barre’s book is a labour of love and a worthy addition to the very limited literature on this subject. I found it fascinating and some of the most interesting aspects were Barre’s speculations regarding the social, economic, cultural and political landscape in which free music took root and which to some degree informed the thinking that gave rise to it.

    Barre’s primary focus is free improvised music as opposed to free jazz, but there is Inevitably some overlap because the labels themselves are to some degree fluid and not all free improv practitioners then or now have entirely forsaken jazz. He seeks to answer three questions. Why did free music develop when it did? What was it trying to do? And why has this abstruse and sometimes intractable music survived and thrived for over fifty years?

    Fascinating stuff, if the subject is of any interest to you, and Barre’s passion for the music is infectious. It is also for the most part a remarkably accessible book, almost entirely free of the kind of academic jargon that some contaminates music writing (I say almost because there are a handful of lapses that could in my view have been avoided, but these can be forgiven in such a worthwhile effort.)


    • The greatest compliment to you is that your daughters have an insight into what things are of interest to you. That is no mean achievement. The closest I got this year was a card that noted our house was the only one in the street with a bottle-bank in its front garden. Metaphorically true, but cruel.


      • Thank you for. Those. Kind words, LJC. I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective but you are right. And it does explain the deep appreciation – and pride – that I felt when I received this present. One doesn’t tell daughters this kind of thing, of course, for fear that they will become insufferable….


  5. To make sure that in the end we will find ourselves with a comfortable choice of awful “designs”, or totally missed “humour”, here is my last selection:
    Got ‘cha Mel Lewis septet San Francisco Jazz Records JR-2
    Like Wow! Marty Paich feat. Art Pepper Intro (Iris) MO 514
    Pepper Adams 5 Interlude MO 502
    Eddie Costa qnt Interlude MO 508
    Vic Feldman Mallets for a thought Interlude MO 510
    A happy New Year to all of you.


  6. I always thought “The Bill Evans Album” cover was a real stinker. The image is so unappealing I’m surprised it won a Grammy, or maybe I shouldn’t be. And what about “Miles Smiles”?. One of the greatest jazz recordings of all-time with such pedestrian artwork. It’s nowhere near as bad as That Oscar Peterson/Clark Terry job! That’s a true horror story.


    • Another Bill Evans cover of singular hideousness is “The Ivory Hunters”, an album he did with trombonist Bob Brookmeyer who actually plays piano on this one alongside Bill. Duelling pianos being Ivory Hunters, bring on the photo of a rearing elephant’s head with pasted in photos of the principal players in its ears. A poor Blue Note effort.


  7. Man that Charlie Parker cover has to be the worst album cover ever produced! It’ll take a lot to beat that. Even topless Herbie Mann can’t beat it! As bad as that is. Did the ladies dig jazz flute in the early ’70’s?


  8. To me, some of the most awkward covers were produced by Savoy Records (Telefunken Blues, Surf Ride …). In fact, a good Savoy cover is the exception rather than the rule. Strangely enough, some people seem to like them.


    • I fully agree. And how about Bird on the throne (12079), Jazz Eyes John Jenkins on Regent 6056 and the Jazz Men :Detroit (12083) ? The taste is so bad that it becomes provocative, whence some people like them.
      In the Pepper vein: Pepper Pot Interlude 512. Great Art btw.


  9. Regarding worst covers:
    Winning the top prize in a masterclass of bad composition is Oscar Peterson & Clark Terry, on Pablo from 1975. It’s so ugly you need to keep your eyes shut when handling this record. I even wince when looking away. The photo must have been taken by accident – maybe the camera was dropped and it fired off when it hit the floor.
    It displays all the qualities of lots of Pablo album covers, namely, poor definition, harsh contrast, bad lighting and appalling composition.
    Interestingly the same guys recorded a great album for Mercury in 1964 with one of the best covers ever, called Oscar Peterson Trio + 1.–One/master/293150


  10. In response to your call for worst album covers – as I posted on the previous thread, the worst jazz LP cover ever is unquestionably Art Pepper – Chile Pepper on Charlie Parker Records (a reissue of the Marty Paich Quartet LP). Houseflies on a bowl of stale chili – cover your eyes:

    Ironically, it sounds fantastic; much better than the Tampa original!

    Herbie Mann – Push Push is also an abomination, although I hesitate to describe the music contained therein as “jazz.”


  11. As luck would have it, I received this morning – as a Christmas gift from my lovely wife – a copy of “Jazz Covers” by Joaquim Paulo (on Taschen). Very cool book; and, obviously, it could not have been more timely. Very interesting book. Not only are there 500+ pages of jazz LP covers, but also short interviews with Rudy Van Gelder, Creed Taylor, Fred Cohen, Michael Cuscuna, Ashley Kahn, and Bob Ciano. And, in the back, a few “DJs top ten” lists.

    Anyway, the cover art is the main attraction, and it is really fun to flip through. Anyone could debate the choices given the thousands of records to choose from, but I really appreciate that the selections run the gamut from the classics (Blue Train, A Love Supreme, etc.) to Bethlehem and Storyville covers, to European pressings, to even a few more modern records. They were chosen with more of an eye to a overall interesting graphic design, rather than “historical musical importance” or general jazz fame.

    There were quite a few I had not even seen before, which was also really cool. A few examples of heretofore-unknown-to-me covers that caught my eye: Dollar Brand – Soweto (Chiaroscuro 1965); Neal Creque – Contrast! (Cobblestone 1972); Shamek Farrah (Strata East 1974); Milford Graves – Percussion Ensemble (ESP-Disk 1965); Keith Jarrett – Life Between the Exit Signs (Vortex – 1967); Roscoe Mitchell Sextet – Sound (Denmark – 1966); and Martin Solal – Locomotion (PSI 1974).

    The other thing that was great was seeing covers that I knew, but had sort of forgotten, because I don’t own originals (and therefore don’t look at the cover art every day); for example, so many FANTASTIC Strata-East covers. Harold Vick – Don’t Look Back, is just the best; what a cover! (and a great, great record too).

    Anyway, the book is highly recommended.


  12. Some excellent late entries there…still missing some classic Blue Notes i feel (Fickle Sonance just came in the mail this morning) but enough choices for a decent jazz album design representation. Let the voting begin !


  13. In the spirit of goodwill, suggestions in comments below have been added to the poll, as late entries. However please note, I am now fresh out of goodwill, no more. It’s like a beauty contest, you have to choose between the contestants, its no good coming in late and saying “oh, but I know one prettier”. (There, that’s got it off my chest 🙂 )

    Get your friends to vote. If you haven’t got any friends…well, Happy Christmas anyway.


    • This isn’t a request LJC, but don’t you have the french Saxophone Collosus? Love that cover. But having looked through your covers above, I think Blue Note nailed the cover designs almost every time.

      Still a great blog btw and Happy Christmas to you too.

      ps I think your blog would make a pretty interesting ebook/pdf. Comments included.


  14. I am unfamiliar with “The Minimalism Of Eric Satie…” but that is one cool cover.

    Funny enough it reminds me of Reid Miles’ work for Blue Note. More specifically it reminds me of the cool covers of Gil Melle Patterns In Jazz and Jackie Mclean’s “It’s Time!”


  15. Here is my late submission.
    Thelonious Monk – Monk’s Music.
    Horace Silver – Finger Poppin’
    Roland Kirk – Rip, Rig and Panic
    Curtis Fuller – Blues-ette
    Dr. Lonnie Smith – Live at Club Mozambique


  16. Is there any time to add a few more tonight, Wednesday? I didn’t see the email concerning these covers from a few days ago.


    • If you are quick, late entry penalty, no more than five, I gotta type them in. People who have already voted won’t be able to include late entries in their choices, so it gets tilted unfairly against them. Anybody else feel a need to, add to comments. I’m too kind.


      • Ok thanks, here are my late entries. Sorry so late. Probably too late now for the deadline, and if so well, I understand; it’s down to me, so just ignore this post.

        Doin’ Alright — Dexter Gordon — Blue Note
        The Blues and the Abstract Truth — Oliver Nelson – U.S. original cover, brownish & blue abstract, not the blue profile of Nelson, although that’s good too. — Impulse
        Jazz Suite; Under Milk Wood — Stan Tracey. – Original release with ferns, trees & sax — Columbia.
        Atomic Mr. Basie — Count Basie Orchestra — Columbia
        Midnight Special — Jimmy Smith — Blue Note

        Greetings of the season!


    • It’s the night before Christmas Eve. It’s a poll about favourite jazz record covers not a once only ballot on world peace. Give the man a break. 🙂


  17. Another pre-Christmas labour of love, LJC. Thanks for another year of terrific jazz talk, looking, listening and learning. Seeing Nucleus’s ELASTIC ROCK made me go home last night and check to make sure I had a copy — yes, I couldn’t quite remember! (I had also just seen a copy for sale at £50.00 — way too much, and was delighted when I found that my copy had cost me £20.00 less than that.) I do love those Nucleus records — Elastic Rock, Solar Plexus and Belladonna. In some ways, they were my first introduction to jazz-rock, or to what I suppose we might call a sort of special Brit-fusion… Very much of their time but hugely enjoyable.

    Happy Christmas and all good wishes for the New Year.


  18. Wow, taste is subjective, but this is a terrible selection from where I sit. I don’t think I can even come up with 20 here that are standout, much less best ever. I’ll start with the obvious–the two most iconic images in the history of post-war jazz–A Love Supreme and Kind of Blue. How could those possibly be left out? And the Monk and Davis Vol. 1 and 2 redone covers are almost equally iconic.

    There is also a dearth of early 1950s covers on Prestige and Savoy, which are some of my favorite designs. I’ll single out the Charlie Parker New Sounds in Modern Music on Savoy. Covers from that era really pop. Also, a very odd selection of Blue Notes here.


    • I agree. Some real stinkers in there. Leon Thomas, the Erik Satie cover, Jazz Eyes (WTF?), the Niehaus and Montrose, “Max” – not a patch on “It’s Time”, Stylings of Silver (possibly his worst cover), Dolphy at the 5 spot (what’s remotely special about it?), April in Paris. Very odd selection IMO.


    • This started out as lists of readers’ personal favorites (read: favorites, not “greatest”…whatever that means). Does the selection make more sense now?

      Ten of mine are in there. Do I think 99% of jazz fans would choose even one of my choices? Why should I? There’s countless awesome covers out there.

      While I find the cover of A Love Supreme to be beautiful and iconic, the cover for Kind of Blue is quite plain to me and I’d be surprised to find it on any kind of ‘objective greatest’ covers of all-time list.

      Even if this list were to attempt to capture some sense of an ‘objective’ list of the ‘greatest’ covers of all-time, I understand that somebody’s going to disagree with the choices and that in this case you’re that person. But I encourage you to try to remember that this isn’t where the interactions are highly impersonal and commenters are likely to feel inclined to be as opinionated as they wish while giving little thought to common courtesy. This is a more tightly-knit community where we tend to converse as if we’re sitting in the same room. 🙂

      Anyway, I agree that there are several rogue Blue Notes and I agree that there are Blue Notes with covers that are probably considered more ‘iconic’ by most jazz fans. But I’m curious: 1. Would there be a difference for you between a list of ‘most iconic’ covers vs. a list of your favorites, and 2. What Blues Notes would you choose for either an iconic list or a favorites list?


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