Jazz. How do you picture it? For me, the music is visualized in the stark black and white Jazz Loft photos of jamming musicians, taken in New York City in the late 1950s and early 1960s by Eugene Smith; or else it’s the striking duotone tinted images and funky graphics of dozens of mid-century Blue Note record sleeves also created in New York at around the same time by Reid Miles. Iconic: it’s an oft-used, often misused word, but it’s the perfect description of Miles’ work for Blue Note. As art director, he designed the covers — based on photos by Francis Wolff, or at times his own — for hundreds of classic jazz recordings, and in doing so defined not only the look of Blue Note but also the look of jazz.
Borrowing Miles’ visual look, I decided to play with a few photos taken at some of my favorite local cafes and bars, processing them to give them a Blue Note vibe.