Friday, June 11, 2010

Emarcy (1954)

Give the drummer some!
Thinking back on it (it being some time in my teens), I probably came to appreciate jazz record covers a bit before I came to really like this thing called jazz - thanks in no small part to the iconic illustrations of David Stone Martin that graced the covers of 100s of classic album covers.

His silvery drummer logo design for the Emarcy label and trumpeter logo for Clef are, I believe, among the only instances where the truly captivating artist's work appears on a record's inner hub. In both cases they rest simply at the head of the labels. It wouldn't be unreasonable to figure the Clef logo as the more successful of the two - the detail is fine; each wrinkle in the player's jacket bringing to light the twists and turns of his physical performance but I decided to showcase the Emarcy drummer for its abstract simplicity. Gazed at from afar, it's a race car driver gripping a steering wheel, a painter holding a palette, a cook holding a plate- a veritable Rorschach of possibilities; a doodle that moves. And what a doodle!

In 2007, I had a couple nights event for my label, Locust, at the Issue Project Room. One of the artists to join in the proceedings was Tony Martin who I had gotten to know a few years earlier through the release of an archival disc of Ramon Sender's Desert Ambulance for which Tony provided all of the stunning spontaneous visual compositions (a detail of his work made up the cover art of this vinyl only release).

A day or so later, Tony asked me if I'd like to come by his Williamsburg loft where, over drinks at their kitchen table, he very casually informed me that his father was also an artist who had done a lot of commercial work for record labels half a century ago. I blurted out 'David Stone Ma...' and looked over at Tony who by now had a smirk on his face and invited me to follow him up the stairs to the top floor. The room was alive with works by DSM and works by Tony - two men who seemed not to have known each other terribly well for one reason or another (and, Tony, I could well be wrong) but whose artistic vision - however different in technique, medium, vision - shares a common bond in their appreciation of movement. There is no still life, only life.

The album in question could really have been any of a number of Emarcys on hand but I grabbed this musical traipse through Parisian jazzy vocals by The Blue Stars of France. It features the late, wonderful curled up comfy cool of the -not a drop French-Blossom Dearie (whose early Verves, Fontanas and a handful of later Daffodils are essential) in cahoots with Christine Legrand (Michel's sister), Jeanine De Waleyne, and Fats Sadi.

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