Irwin Chusid, Jim Flora The Mischievous Art of Jim Flora Fantagraphics Books 2004 ISBN: 1560976004
Back in the day when album covers had an impact on music-buying decisions and didn't require a magnifying glass, Jim Flora, as described by this book's author, "wreaked havoc with the laws of physics .
The book is conveniently divided into basically five beautifully displayed sections of Flora's illustrative career, from his '40s and '50s Columbia and RCA-Victor album covers (the bulk of his renowned artwork) to his creations for Coda publications and Little Man Press (the first ever re-printing of these fabled illustrations) and a final section featuring his varied commercial work.
Though Flora knew each musician's style, most of the time he'd design covers without having himself even heard a single note of an impending release beforehand! His signature style overshadowed much of the music found therein and certainly suggested the music of the more experimental '60s era, which was still decades away, than the mainstream, Swing and Dixieland jazz his musical figures and shapes accompanied. His psychedelic and playful jazz caricatures and noodle-y warped instruments graced album covers by Gene Krupa, The Sauter-Finegan Orchestra, Kid Ory and others, exciting the imagination before the needle even dropped. Ironic, too, that with all the bright color combinations Flora used, he was partially color-blind. Around the time of rock 'n roll's emergence, however, album cover art design shifted towards photographs. Flora became a distinguished kid's book author/artist.
Perhaps JD King (illustrator, musician and writer with obvious Flora influences) sums up Jim Flora's style best: "He was the start of an illustration style that took the modernism of painters Miro, Klee and Picasso, blended it with a jazz sensibility and added a dollop of the Sunday pages .
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.