I collect a lot of records. A lot of us do. But my passion lies in two very specific areas both straddling the same time period. One is early Reggae Soul, Rock Steady 7inches and the other is melodic Free and Avant-Garde Jazz from the late sixties and the early seventies.There is one major label which fully captured the biggest artists and some of the best music of that era and that is Impulse!Records. Impulse! put out both the biggies of the genre like Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp and Charles Mingus as well as some of the more innovative in Alice Coltrane, Marion Brown, Albert Ayler, McCoy Tyner, Joe Henderson, and Don Cherry. The period is like none other. It is earthy and spiritual, melodic and rebellious.
To produce album covers that captured the earthiness and spirituality of each of these artists and their music, and then position them on their respective record sleeves themselves was largely left to one man – photographer and editor, Chuck Stewart. An original jazz photographer from the forties and fifties, he pumped out stunning portrait after stunning portrait. In an era where black and white, Birth of the Cool moved into a more ethnically charged, rich color photography, Stewart provided an unmistakeable style and voice. Above is just a quick sampling from my personal collection.