Author Archives: jazzfusion67

Some Overlooked ESP-Disk Gems (RIP Bernard Stollman)

Memory Select: Journeys in Creative Music

esp-front-cropWith the recent passing of Bernard Stollman at 85, I’m looking back over the catalog of ESP-Disk, his eclectic record label that became instrumental to the development of free jazz. I thought it would be fun to highlight a few gems that aren’t getting mentioned in other obituraries.

During my time as KZSU jazz director, we were receiving some ESP-Disk reissues that were top-notch stuff and some new releases that excelled. But ESP was maybe a little too open-minded in its selections, because we got some albums, old and new, that fell flat, tripping over the line between glorious freedom and undisciplined chaos. I credit Stollman for giving the artists total control over their albums, but there’s a lesson in there about temperance.

You can search the KZSU library here or here, two different and rather powerful search engines that put a lot of commercial efforts to shame. Because…

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Marte Roling & Fontana Records

burning ambulance

In the 1960s, Dutch artist Marte Röling was commissioned to design a series of album covers for Fontana Records. These beautiful releases have become legendary in the free jazz scene, as their visually extravagant yet folky design perfectly complements the music. Below, a gallery of 13 Röling covers for albums by Paul Bley, Dollar Brand, Marion Brown, Ted Curson, the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, the New York Art Quartet, the New York Contemporary Five, Dewey Redman, George Russell, Cecil Taylor, and more.

Several of these albums have recently been reissued on CD in Japan, in mini-LP sleeves that replicate the original artwork; check Amazon Japan or eBay.

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