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The Birka Jazz Archive
Records we have bought and sold over the years - the rare and the beautiful!

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The pioneers of album cover design

David Stone Martin

The photographic covers

Searching for a modern jazz identity

BLUE NOTE  1500 series
Defining the hard bop style

BLUE NOTE  4000 series
Masterpieces of Reid Miles

Images of East Coast jazz

Street cred with Thelonious Monk

Moods of Chet and Claxton

Cool West Coast, great Sound

Masterworks by Charlie Parker

Small label, big Bird sound

Bold and striking albums

The classic drummer logo label

The beautiful design of Burt Goldblatt

Artist-operated jazz label with Mingus & Roach

Legendary, early 1960s LPs

Free jazz and silk screened covers

Edgy and experimental

The high spirit of Jim Flora

VARIOUS US labels (1)
ABC-Paramount, Aladdin, Argo, Capitol, Coral, Dawn, Decca,
and more

VARIOUS US labels (2)
Epic, Fantasy, HiFi, Imperial, Jazzland, Jazz West, Jubilee, Mercury, Mode, and more

VARIOUS US labels (3)
Roost, Signal, Storyville, Tampa, Transition, United Artists, Vee Jay, and more


The EP era and Metronome Records in 1950s

The LPs in the 1950s, and Swedish jazz abroad

Changing times in the 1960s

New energy to Swedish jazz in the 1970s

Montmartre, Debut Records and the heydays in Danish jazz

Krog and Garbarek, greats in Norwegian jazz

Plenty of merged styles in Finnish jazz

Americans in Paris, force in French jazz

Esquire and Tempo, classic labels in British jazz

Jazz labels with strong identity

Rare Italian jazz covers

From Diamonds to ICP in
Dutch jazz

Unique series of Polish jazz on Muza

Jazz labels around the world

Various US labels

Part 2

         Epic label

EPIC RECORDS was started in 1954 by CBC as a sister to Columbia. It became an important label for jazz and classical music the first ten years, before it went over to pop music.

Epic is known for its fine cover designs in the mid 1950s. Some of them were created by Ivan Chermayeff and his famous design studio in New York. Unfortunately much of their work was not credited. But the high art value as well as they were playful and austere, indicates that they were designed by Chermayeff.


EVEREST was started in 1958 by the electronic inventor and scientist Harry D. Belock and producer Bert Whyte. Also the famous designer Alex Steinweiss helped launch the company.

The label was devoted mainly to classical music but also some jazz records were issued. Alex Steinweiss designed the first ten covers, along with the logo and packaging, and by the early 1960s, and the label´s demise, he had designed nearly one hundred Everest covers.


FANTASY was established in 1949 in Berkely, California, by the brothers Max and Sol Weiss. The label is best known for recordings of the comedian Lenny Bruce in the 1950s, and for albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s by the rock group Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The company recorded jazz in the 1950s, but the label has been of only modest importance to jazz. Fantasy´s signifiance as a jazz company lies in its acquisition of other labels, and its programs of reissues. In the 1960s the company acquried the Debut label, and continued in the 1970s with labels such as Prestige, Riverside, Milestones and (in the early 1980s) Contemporary.

In the 1980s the subsidiary label Original Jazz Classic was established. OJC started a reissue program, offering the albums as facsimil reproductions of the classic jazz LPs from the 1950s and 1960s.


GNP RECORDS was founded in Hollywood in the early 1950s by the impressario Gene Norman. At first the label was used to release recordings of concerts he had arranged on the West Coast. The first name of the company was Gene Norman Presents, later shortened to GNP and in the 1960s changed to GNP Crescendo.

The first ten albums were 10" LPs, including the classic Clifford Brown - Max Roach In Concert-albums. GNP continued with around 90 albums in the 12" format into 1963. Some were jazz, but also popular and latin music. From 1963 the label concentrated on popular music.


HIFFI RECORD (also known as HiFi Jazz) was founded in Hollywood in 1958 by David Axelrod. He is best known for his work as producer and A&R man at Capitol Records in the 1960s, producing Cannonball Adderley and other black artists. The HiFi label issued some fine albums around 1960 before Axelrod went to Capitol in 1963.


IMPERIAL was started in 1946 in Los Angeles and is best known for its recordings of r&b artists in New Orleans in the 1950s. The label´s most important artist was Fats Domino.

Imperial recorded jazz only intermittenly, but produced some fine albums by Sonny Criss and Charlie Mariano. The label was sold to Liberty in 1964.


JARO was established in New York in 1959 as a jazz sister to Top Rank which was a US subsidiary of Rank Records in London. The label only existed for a couple of years. Some of the few LPs which were issued have been extremely hard to find and in demand among collectors. From the late 1970s the catalogue has been reissued by Xanadu.


JAZZLAND was started in 1960 as subsidiary label of Riverside. About 100 LPs were issued into 1963, some of them were reissues of Riverside recordings. The label was sold to Orpheum Production in 1964, which then started a reissue program of the Jazzland catalogue.


JAZZTIME was founded in 1961 by Fred Norsworthy. Involved in the project was also Duke Pearson and Dave Bailey. Three LPs were issued in 1961. Then the label changed name to JAZZ LINE. Another two LPs were issued, the last in 1962.

This output (including unissued materal) has during the years appeared under different names and titles on many labels, such as Polydor, Fontana, Onyx, Muse and Black Lions.


JAZZ WEST was a subsidiary label of Aladdin Records. The company released two 10" LPs in 1954-1955, and then continued with some few 12" LPs in 1956 and 1957.


JIHAD was formed by LeRoy Jones (Amiri Baraka) in 1967. The intention was to broadcast the work of the Jihad Cultural Center in Newark NJ. The label produced and issued only three LPs, all in 1968. The best known is the Sunny Murray LP with Albert Ayler and Don Cherry.


JUBILEE was founded in 1946 in New York by Herb Abramson. The company recorded mostly popular music in the 1950s and 1960s and had a speciality in comedy records. Also some jazz albums were issued in the fifties. The label went out of business around 1970.


LIBERTY was founded in 1955 in Hollywood by Simon Waronker. He liked lush orchestral music and the label´s catalog was in the beginning filled with movie music, big bands etc.

There was also some jazz, and Liberty´s first star was the singer Julie London. She made a string of successful albums in the 1950s. The biggest early rock and roll artist for Liberty was Eddie Cochran.

In 1957, Liberty acquired Pacific Jazz Records, and in mid 1960s they also acquired Blue Note Records. A few years later Liberty was sold to the owner of United Artists Records, who in 1971 dropped the Liberty name. But in 1980, a new owner, EMI, dropped United Artists name and revived the Liberty name...


LIMELIGHT RECORDS was established in 1962 as a subsidiary of Mercury. Its activities were directed by the producer Jack Tracy and the catalogue included some 50 jazz albums until 1966.

The albums is best known for their artistic cover designs. It was a nice try to expand the concept of the cover. They have intricate folds and cuts, with pop-ups between twofers and slanted booklets attached to the beautiful inside covers. Many of the albums were designed by Daniel Czubak.


MERCURY was formed in 1945. The company released their own recordings, but also much materials by other record companies. Best known are the Norman Granz recordings on Clef which were released on the Mercury label in the 1940s and early 1950s. These records have the trumpeter logo on the label, that distinguished them from Mercury´s own recordings (below).


Mercury soon became a major force in jazz and blues, classical, rock, and country recordings. Among the first jazz musicians to record for the label were Erroll Garner and Dinah Washington.

In 1954 Mercury established the subsidiary label EmArcy which was devoted exclusively to jazz (see special page). Some jazz were also released on the subsidiary Wing label.

When EmArcys jazz activities slowly declined in the late 1950s, the company issued a considerable amount of jazz on on the Mercury label itself. New subsidiary labels in the early 1960s were Limelight and Smash.


In 1962, however, Mercury was bought by the Dutch company Philips (which holds Phonogram label) and also merged with Deutche Polydor. It went forward in the early 1970s to the name of PolyGram.


METRO JAZZ was established in 1958 as a subsidiary of MGM. Around 15 LPs were issued in the late 1950s. Some of the albums were in the 1960s rereleased by Verve, which was then owned by MGM.


MODE RECORDS was a short lived west-coast jazz label. It´s known, and also collected, for its lavish painted LP covers by Eva Diana. Mode issued around 30 LPs, all in 1957. Almost all were produced by Red Clyde. The catalog now belongs to VSOP Records which have reissued them on vinyl and CD.


NOCTURNE RECORDS was founded in 1954 by drummer Roy Harte and bassist Harry Babasin. The company was based in Hollywood, California, and started a series of new recordings called "Jazz In Hollywood". They introduced musicians like Herbie Harper, Bob Gordon, Bud Shank, Marty Paich and Jimmy Rowles. After about a year Nocturne merged with Liberty Records.


PROGRESSIVE was established in New York in 1950 by Gus Statiras. Some few albums were issued in the first half of the 1950s. The operations declined, and much of the material was sold to and reissued by Savoy.

The company became active again in the late 1970s, cooperating with the Japanese company Bainbridge. New recordings by J.R. Monterose and Al Haig among others were issued, supervised by the founder Gus Statiras.

Continued next page

Various US labels  (3)

Cab Calloway  Cab Calloway   Label: Epic 3265   12" LP 1956   Illustration: Sam Norkin

Various US labels  ( 2 )
Epic Records

Count Basie  Count Basie: Rock the Blues!   Label: Epic 1117   10" LP 1955   Foto: Alfred Gescheldt

Johnny Hodges  Johnny Hodges: Hodge Podge   Label: Epic 3105   12" LP 1955
 Illustration: William Steig

Lester Young  Lester Young: Lester Leaps In   Label: Epic 3107   12" LP 1955
 Illustration: William Steig

Chu Berry  Chu Berry   Label: Epic 3124   12" LP 1955   Illustration: William Steig

King Oliver  King Oliver   Label: Epic 3208   12" LP 1956

Joe Carroll  Joe Carroll   Label: Epic 3272   12" LP 1956
 Design: Ivan Chermayeff   Photo: Don Hunstein

Horace Silver  Horace Silver: Silver´s Blue   Label: Epic 3326   12" LP 1956

Ruby Braff  Ruby Braff: Braff!!   Label: Epic 3377   12" LP 1957   Photo: Jay Maisel

Ray Bryant  Ray Bryant Trio   Label: Epic 3279   12" LP 1957  Photo: Don Hunstein

Phil Woods  Phil Woods: Warm Woods   Label: Epic 3436   12" LP 1958  Photo: Hal Bach

Dave Bailey   Dave Bailey Two clasic LPs by drummer Dave Bailey from 1960 and 1961.
One Foot in the Gutter (Epic LA 16008) and Two Feet in the Gutter (Epic LA 16021)

Curtis Fuller  Curtis Fuller: South American Cookin´   Label: Epic 16020   12" LP 1961

Charlie Rouse: Yeah  Charlie Rouse: Yeah!   Label: Epic 17012   12" LP 1961

Esoteric Records

 Al Haig Trio   Label: Esoteric ESJ-7   10" LP 1954
 Design: Don Briggs

Everest Records

 Woody Herman: Moody Woody   Label: Everest 5032   12" LP 1958
 Design: Alex Steinweiss

Fantasy Records

 The Dave Brubeck Trio   Label: Fantasy 3-2   10" LP 1951

 Dave Brubeck Octet   Label: Fantasy 3-3   10" LP 1951

 Dave Brubeck Quartet   Label: Fantasy 3-5   10" LP 1952
 Photo: Bob Willoughby

 Gerry Mulligan Quartet   Label: Fantasy 3-6   10" LP 1953

 Dave Brubeck - Paul Desmond: Jazz at Storyville   Label: Fantasy 3-8   10" LP 1953

 Charlie Mariano   Label: Fantasy 3-10   10" LP 1953
 Design: Harold Crowley

 Charlie Mariano   Label: Fantasy EP-4010  7" EP 1953
 Design: Harold Crowley


   Jazz at the College of the Pacific by Dave Brubeck (Fantasy 3-13), and
Paul Desmond (Fantasy 3-21). Both 10" LPs, issued 1954-1955

 Paul Desmond - Dave Brubeck: Jazz Interwoven   Label: Fantasy 3-20  10" LP 1955

 Brew Moore Quintet   Label: Fantasy 3-222  12" LP 1956

 Cal Tjader´s Latin Kick   Label: Fantasy 3250  12" LP 1957


 Howard McGhee: Music from the Connection   Label: Felsted FL 7512  12" LP 1960

Flying Dutchman

 John Appleton / Don Cherry: Human Music   Label: Flying Dutchman FDS-121  
12" LP 1970  Design: Robert Flynn  Art: Moqui Cherry

 George Russell: Electronic Sonata For Souls Loved By Nature   Label: Flying Dutchman 10124  
12" LP 1971  Cover textil print by Anna Russell

 Jan Garbarek presented by George Russell: The Esoteric Circle   Label: Flying Dutchman 10125  
12" LP 1971  Design: Marit Jerstad and Dan Pezza

GNP Records

 Charlie Ventura: In Concert   Label: GNP 1   12" LP 1954
 Design: John Brandt

 Max Roach and Clifford Brown in Concert   Label: GNP 5   10" LP 1954   Design: John Brandt

 Frank Morgan   Label: GNP vol 12   12" LP 1955   Photo: Ray Avery

 Max Roach - Clifford Brown    Label: GNP 18   12" LP 1955   Design: John Brandt

 Marty Paich: Tenors West   Label: GNP 21   12" LP 1956
 Design: Modern/Arts

 Paul Bley: Solemn Meditation   Label: GNP 31   12" LP 1957

Herald Records

 Anthony Ortega: A Man and His Horn   Label: Herald HLP 01101  12" LP 1956

HiFi Records

 Richie Kamuca: Jazz Erotica   Label: HiFi Record 604   12" LP 1959

 Richie Kamuca - Bill Holman: West Coast Jazz in HiFi   Label: HiFi Record 609   12" LP 1959

   LPs from 1960: Jimmy Witherspoon (HiFi Jazz R-426),
and Elmo Hope (HiFi Jazz 616)

 Harold Land: The Fox   Label: HiFi Jazz 612   12" LP 1960
Painting: Saul White

Imperial Records

 Charlie Mariano   Label: Imperial 3006   10" LP 1955

 Modern Saxophone Stylings of Charlie Mariano   Label: Imperial 3007   10" LP 1955

 Sonny Criss: Jazz U.S.A.   Label: Imperial 9006  12" LP 1956
Photo: Max Yavano

 Sonny Criss: Go Man!   Label: Imperial 9020  12" LP 1956
Photo: Norman Gollin

 Warne Marsh: Jazz Of Two Cities   Label: Imperial 9027  12" LP 1957


 Art Pepper: Modern Art   Label: Intro 606   12" LP 1957
 Design: Donald D. Clark   Photo: Ray Avery

Jaro Records

 Babs Gonzales: Tales of Manhattan   Label: Jaro 5000   12" LP 1959

 J.R. Monterose: The Message   Label: Jaro 5004   12" LP 1959

 The Arrival of Kenny Dorham   Label: Jaro 5007   12" LP 1960

Jazzland Records

 East Coast Sounds   Label: Jazzland 11   12" LP 1960

 Chet Baker in Milan   Label: Jazzland 18   12" LP 1960
 Design: Paul Bacon   Photo: Lawrence N. Shustak

 Sonny Red: Breezing   Label: Jazzland 32   12" LP 1960
 Design: Ken Deardoff   Photo: Donald Silverstein

 Harold Land: Eastward Ho!   Label: Jazzland 33   12" LP 1960
 Design: Ken Deardoff   Photo: Jerry Stoll

 Paul Gonsalves: Gettin' Together   Label: Jazzland 36   12" LP 1960
 Design: Ken Deardoff    

 Joe Harriott: Southern Horizons   Label: Jazzland 37   12" LP 1960
 Design: Ken Deardoff   Photo: Mike Costa

 Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane   Label: Jazzland 46   12" LP 1960
 Design: Ken Deardoff   Painting: Prophet (Richard Jennings)

 Frank Strozier: Long Night   Label: Jazzland 56   12" LP 1961
 Design: Ken Deardoff

 Junior Cook: Junior´s Cookin´   Label: Jazzland 58   12" LP 1961
 Design: Ken Deardoff

 Clifford Jordan: Bearcat   Label: Jazzland 69   12" LP 1962
 Design: Ken Deardoff

 Sonny Rollins: Sonny´s Time   Label: Jazzland 72   12" LP 1962
 Design: Ken Deardoff

 Chuck Mangione: Recuerdo   Label: Jazzland 84   12" LP 1962
 Design: Ken Deardoff

Jazztime and Jazz Line

 Rocky Boyd: Ease It   Label: Jazztime JS 001  12" LP 1961

 Walter Bishop Jr: Speak Low   Label: Jazztime JS 002  12" LP 1961

 Dave Bailey: Reaching Out   Label: Jazztime JS 003  12" LP 1961

 Dave Bailey: Bash!   Label: Jazz Line 33-01  12" LP 1961
Design: Gary Gladstone / Fred Stafford  

 Duke Pearson: Hush!   Label: Jazz Line 33-02  12" LP 1962  
Design and Photo: Gary Gladstone

Jazz West Records

 Jack Sheldon: Get Out of Town   Label: Jazz West 1   10" LP 1955
 Design and photo: William Claxton

 Jack Sheldon Quintet   Label: Jazz West 2   10" LP 1955

 Kenny Drew: Talkin´ and Walkin´   Label: Jazz West 4   12" LP 1955
Photo: William Claxton

 Paul Chambers: Chambers´ Music´   Label: Jazz West 7   12" LP 1956

 Lawrence Marable Quartet featuring James Clay: Tenorman   Label: Jazz West 8   12" LP 1956
Photo: William Claxton

 The Return of Art Pepper   Label: Jazz West 10   12" LP 1956
Photo: William Claxton

Jazz Workshop

 Charlie Parker: Bird at St. Nicks  Label: Jazz Workshop 500   12" LP 1957
 Photo: Bob Parent

Jihad Records

 Sunny Murray: Sonny´s Time Now´   Label: Jihad 663   12" LP 1967
 Photo: Ray Gibson

 A Black Mass by Leroy Jones. Music by Sun Ra   Label: Jihad 1968   12" LP 1968

Jubilee Records

 Polly Bergen: Little Girl Blue   Label: Jubilee 14   10" LP 1955
 Design and photo: Burt Goldblatt

 Monica Lewis: Fools Rush In   Label: Jubilee 20   10" LP 1955

 Herb Geller: Fire in the West   Label: Jubilee 1044   12" LP 1957
 Design and painting: Si Leichman

 Art Blakey: Cu-Bop   Label: Jubilee 1049   12" LP 1958
 Design and painting: Tom Hannan

 Ray Draper: A Tuba Jazz   Label: Jubilee 1090   12" LP 1959

 Jackie McLean plays Fat Jazz   Label: Jubilee 1093   12" LP 1959  
Design: Sy Leichman  Photo: Charles Varon 

King Records

 Roland Kirk: Triple Threat   Label: King 539   12" LP 1956

Liberty Records

 Julie London: Julie   Label: Liberty 3096   12" LP 1957

   Julie London: Calendar Girl   Label: Liberty SL-9002   12" LP 1956   Gatefold cover

 Bill Perekins - Richie Kamuca: Tenors Head-On   Label: Liberty 3051   12" LP 1957

 Julie London: Make Love To Me   Label: Liberty 3060   12" LP 1957

Limelight Records

 Eric Dolphy: Last Date   Label: Limelight 86013 (stereo)   12" LP 1964
 Illustration: Z. Jastrtzebski

 Roland Kirk: Rip. Rag and Panic   Label: Limelight 82027   12" LP 1965
 Design: Daniel Czubak

 Roland Kirk: Slightly Latin   Label: Limelight 82033   12" LP 1966
 Design: Daniel Czubak

Mercury Records

 Patti Page: I Miss You So   Label: Mercury EP-1-3060   7" EP early 1950s

 Sarah Vaughan: The Divine Sarah   Label: Mercury MG-25188   10" LP 1954

 Erroll Garner: Afternoon of an Elf   Label: Mercury 20090   12" LP 1955
 Photo: Herman Leonard

 Muggsy Spanier and his Dixieland Band   Label: Mercury 20171   12" LP 1956

 Dinah Washington: The Best in Blues   Label: Mercury 20247   12" LP 1958
 Photo: Garrett & Howard

 Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago   Label: Mercury 20449   12" LP 1959
 Illustration: Peter Gourtain

 Jimmy Cleveland Style   Label: Mercury 20553   12" LP 1960

 Ernestine Anderson: Moanin´   Label: Mercury 20582   12" LP 1960

 Al Cohn - Zoot Sims: You ´n Me´   Label: Mercury 20582   12" LP 1960

 Charles Mingus: Pre Bird   Label: Mercury 20627   12" LP 1961

 Roland Kirk: We Free Kings   Label: Mercury 20679   12" LP 1962

 Roland Kirk: Domino   Label: Mercury 20748   12" LP 1962

 Roland Kirk: Reeds & Deeds   Label: Mercury 20800   12" LP 1963

 The Many Sides of Max Roach   Label: Mercury 20911   12" LP 1964

Metro Jazz

 Sonny Rollins and the Big Brass   Label: Metro Jazz 1002   12" LP 1958

   LPs from 1958: Sonny Rollins at Music Inn (Metro Jazz 1011), and
Keepin´ Up withe the Joneses (Metro Jazz 1003)


 Joe Henderson: The Kicker   Label: Milestone 9008   12" LP 1967
 Design: Studio Grafica   Photo: Charles Stewart

Mint Records

 Al Haig Today   Label: Mint Records AL-711  12" LP 1964

Mode Records

 Herbie Harper Sextet   Label: Mode 100   12" LP 1957
 Painting: Eva Diana

 Richie Kamuca Quartet   Label: Mode 102   12" LP 1957
 Painting: Eva Diana

 Clora Bryant - Gal with a Horn   Label: Mode 106   12" LP 1957
 Painting: Eva Diana

 Frank Rosolino Quintet   Label: Mode 107   12" LP 1957
 Painting: Eva Diana

 Joy Bryan Sings   Label: Mode 108   12" LP 1957
 Painting: Eva Diana

 Pepper Adams Quintet with Stu Williamson   Label: Mode 112   12" LP 1957

 Warne Marsh: Music for Prancing   Label: Mode 125   12" LP 1957
Design: Bill Box

Ninth Note Records

 Bobby Jackson's Cafe Extra-Ordinarie Story   Label: Ninth Note NNR-007  
Issue: 12" LP 1977 (recorded 1970)

Nocturne Records

 Herbie Harper Quintet   Label: Nocturne NLP1   10" LP 1954
 Photo: Dave Pell

 Bud Shank Quintet   Label: Nocturne NLP2   10" LP 1954
 Photo: William Claxton

 The Lou Levy Trio   Label: Nocturne 10   10" LP 1954
 Design: Walter Kacik

Old Town Records

 Ted Curson: Plenty of Horn   Label: Old Town 2003   12" LP 1961
 Photo: Michael Chassid

Period Records

 Al Haig Quartet   Label: Period 1104   10" LP 1954

 Sonny Rollins Plays   Label: Period 1204   12" LP 1957

 Thad Jones: Mad Thad   Label: Period 1208   12" LP 1956   Photo: Stephen Haas

Progressive Records

 George Wallington Trio   Label: Progressive PLP 3001   12" LP 1952   Design: Burt Goldblatt

 Al Cohn Quintet   Label: Progressive PLP 3002   10" LP 1953  

 Al Cohn Quintet   Label: Progressive plp-3004   10" LP 1954
 Design: Burt Goldblatt

 George Wallington Quintet at the Bohemia   Label: Progressive 1001  12" LP 1955

 Hal Stein - Warren Fitzgerald   Label: Progressive 1002  12" LP 1955

Rama Records

 Joe Newman - Zoot Sims: Locking Horns   Label: Rama 1003  12" LP 1957

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