David Stone Martin and the Art of Jazz

Updated on February 22, 2018
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 Jazz at First Sight: The Art of David Stone Martin Exhibition Poster 2010
Jazz at First Sight: The Art of David Stone Martin Exhibition Poster 2010 | Source

In the world of record collecting, there is one jazz artist who has left his mark on jazz culture without ever playing a musical instrument. Illustrator David Stone Martin, or DSM, was one of the most prolific and influential graphic designers from the postwar period. Martin designed several hundred album covers, primarily those of jazz musicians. Martin designed album covers for such jazz giants as:

  • Stan Getz
  • Count Basie
  • Charlie Parker
  • Billie Holiday
  • Coleman Hawkins
  • John Coltrane
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Dizzy Gillespie
  • Jelly Roll Morton
  • and Duke Ellington

In my opinion, Martin's signature hand-sketched graphics, coupled with only one or two primary colors, perfectly captured the energy and spontaneity of the jazz idiom. Martin produced covers for jazz record labels from the 1940s to the 1960s. The record labels Martin worked for include:

  • Asch Records
  • Dial Records
  • Disc Records
  • Mercury / Clef Records (verve)
  • Jazz at the Philharmonic

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Martin created album cover designs for:

  • In-terplay
  • Progressive
  • Pablo (another Granz label)

Over the course of his career, Martin created over 400 album covers.

Billie Holiday "All Or Nothing At All" Verve Records MG V 8329 12" LP Vinyl Record (1957) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Billie Holiday "All Or Nothing At All" Verve Records MG V 8329 12" LP Vinyl Record (1957) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Art Tatum "The Genius of Art Tatum, No. 11" Clef Records MG C 712 12" LP Vinyl Record (1956) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Art Tatum "The Genius of Art Tatum, No. 11" Clef Records MG C 712 12" LP Vinyl Record (1956) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
Stan Getz "Interpretations by the Stan Getz Quintet, vol. 3" Norgran Records MG N 1029  12" LP Vinyl Record (1955) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Stan Getz "Interpretations by the Stan Getz Quintet, vol. 3" Norgran Records MG N 1029 12" LP Vinyl Record (1955) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
Trumpeter Logo Art Created for the Jazz at the Philharmonic Concerts or JATP for Norman Grantz
Trumpeter Logo Art Created for the Jazz at the Philharmonic Concerts or JATP for Norman Grantz | Source

Did You Know?

David Stone Martin and Norman Granz had a long-standing relationship fueled by their mutual love of jazz. Martin created well over 200 album cover designs for various Granz projects. Martin's first commission for Norman Granz was a logo designed for the "Jazz At The Philharmonic" concerts and tours. Martin created the famous Trumpeter logo, which Granz featured on all of his concert programs and record labels.

In the mid-1940s, Norman Granz's recordings were pressed and distributed by Mercury Records. These records also have the trumpeter logo on the label, which distinguished them from Mercury´s own recordings.

Norman Granz established his first record label, Clef, in 1946. Clef issued almost 100 jazz 10" LPs in the early half of the 1950s. Many of these recordings were also issued on the Mercury label. Clef continued on, issuing about 165 LPs in the 12" format, some of which were reissues of the 10" format LPs.

The trumpeter logo is still the most recognized logo in jazz.

Charlie Parker "Charlie Parker Big Band" Clef Records MG C-609 12" LP Vinyl Record (1954) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Charlie Parker "Charlie Parker Big Band" Clef Records MG C-609 12" LP Vinyl Record (1954) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
Roy Eldridge "Roy Eldridge Collates"  Mercury MG C  113  10" LP Vinyl Record (1952) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Roy Eldridge "Roy Eldridge Collates" Mercury MG C 113 10" LP Vinyl Record (1952) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
Roy Eldridge Dizzy Gillespie "Roy and Diz" Clef Records MG C 671 12" LP Vinyl Record (1955) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin Album
Roy Eldridge Dizzy Gillespie "Roy and Diz" Clef Records MG C 671 12" LP Vinyl Record (1955) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin Album | Source
Jazz at the Philharmonic, vol. 3 Mercury Records MG C 195 10" LP Vinyl Record (1946) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin Album Cover Art
Jazz at the Philharmonic, vol. 3 Mercury Records MG C 195 10" LP Vinyl Record (1946) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin Album Cover Art | Source
Barney Kessel  "Swing Guitars" Norgran Records MG N 1033 12" LP Vinyl Record (1955) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Barney Kessel "Swing Guitars" Norgran Records MG N 1033 12" LP Vinyl Record (1955) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
Oscar Peterson "Oscar Peterson Plays Irving Berlin" Mercury Records MG C 604 7" EP Record (1953) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Oscar Peterson "Oscar Peterson Plays Irving Berlin" Mercury Records MG C 604 7" EP Record (1953) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
Lester Young "Lester Young: Collates No.2" Mercury 124 10" LP Vinyl Record (1953) Album Cover Art by David Stone MartinArt
Lester Young "Lester Young: Collates No.2" Mercury 124 10" LP Vinyl Record (1953) Album Cover Art by David Stone MartinArt | Source
Charlie Parker "The Magnificent Charlie Parker" Clef Records MG C 646 12" LP Vinyl Record (1955) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Charlie Parker "The Magnificent Charlie Parker" Clef Records MG C 646 12" LP Vinyl Record (1955) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
Various Artist "Alto Sax" Norgran 1035 12" LP Vinyl Record (1957) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Various Artist "Alto Sax" Norgran 1035 12" LP Vinyl Record (1957) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
Lester Young "Lester Young Trio" Mercury 104 10" LP Vinyl Record (1952) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Lester Young "Lester Young Trio" Mercury 104 10" LP Vinyl Record (1952) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
Billie Holiday "Billie Holiday Sings" Mercury / Clef 118 10" LP Vinyl Record (1953) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Billie Holiday "Billie Holiday Sings" Mercury / Clef 118 10" LP Vinyl Record (1953) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
Charlie Parker "Charlie Parker Plays South of the Border" Mercury 513 10" LP Vinyl Record (1953) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Charlie Parker "Charlie Parker Plays South of the Border" Mercury 513 10" LP Vinyl Record (1953) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
Art Tatum "The Genius of Art Tatum, vol. 3" Clef  614 12" LP Vinyl Record (1954) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Art Tatum "The Genius of Art Tatum, vol. 3" Clef 614 12" LP Vinyl Record (1954) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie "Bird and Diz"  Mercury Records 512 10" LP Vinyl Record, (1952) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie "Bird and Diz" Mercury Records 512 10" LP Vinyl Record, (1952) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
The Flip Phillips Quartet   Mercury Records 25023 10" LP Vinyl Record (1950) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
The Flip Phillips Quartet Mercury Records 25023 10" LP Vinyl Record (1950) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
Roy Eldridge "Swing Goes Dixie" Verve Records 1010 12" LP Vinyl Record (1956) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Roy Eldridge "Swing Goes Dixie" Verve Records 1010 12" LP Vinyl Record (1956) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source
Roy Eldridge, Art Tatum  Clef  Records 679   12" LP Vinyl Record (1956) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin
Roy Eldridge, Art Tatum Clef Records 679 12" LP Vinyl Record (1956) Album Cover Art by David Stone Martin | Source

Barney Kessel "Orfeo Negro Medley" 1955

Copyright Disclaimer

I make no copyright claims on the video content or images of drawings, paintings, prints, or other two-dimensional works of art contained within this article. The copyright for these items is most likely owned by either the artist who produced the image or the person who commissioned the work and/or their heirs. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is any use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

Questions & Answers

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      • Fox Music profile imageAUTHOR

        Fox Music 

        3 years ago

        Your Right gee5 the compact disc and certainly the mp3 have surely changed what once was an extension of the bands artistic intent and has reduced to size of a postage stamp which reveals no meanings or insights.

      • gee5 profile image

        gee5 

        6 years ago

        In the age of mp3's, unfortunately its hard for artist like Martin to get exposure. Thanks for this lens.

      • Bellezza-Decor profile image

        Bellezza-Decor 

        6 years ago from Canada

        Billie Holiday is still one of my favorites. Great lens!

      • profile image

        xavierdickso26 

        6 years ago

        Really great lens you have.

        Keep it up.

      • Loveyourshoes profile image

        Loveyourshoes 

        6 years ago

        visual jazz....I sure do miss the artwork element of buying records because that was as an integral part of buying a new LP as a kid, listening to the music whilst reading the notes or lyrics of the album sleeve. Thanks for a great and informative lens

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        7 years ago

        In 1962, when I was a student at the Institute of Design in Chicago, I assembled a large show of album art which included many of DSM's great covers. Many were my own lps, but many came from the record companies that sent me the press proof sheets which I mounted. He consistently captured the essence of each musician and the music with his unique vision, abet highly influenced by Ben Shahn. Thanks for assembling this homage to his work.

      • ZablonMukuba profile image

        ZablonMukuba 

        8 years ago

        i will always be a jazz fun

      • profile image

        chickadddee 

        10 years ago

        I love jazz records and David Stone Martins art!!!

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