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David Stone Martin and the Art of Jazz

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Fox Music Company is an indie record store nestled in the downtown historic district of Watertown, Wisconsin.

 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Keep It In the Groove—Let Us Know You Were Here Too!

Noe Bodski on January 02, 2019:

You should mention that DSM studied with Ben Sahn, from whom strongly influenced his style, particularly the black spots and raggy lines.

Fox Music (author) on June 18, 2015:

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 on May 06, 2012:

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

Bellezza-Decor from Canada on January 30, 2012:

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

xavierdickso26 on January 06, 2012:

Really great lens you have.

Keep it up.

Loveyourshoes on November 30, 2011:

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

anonymous on December 01, 2010:

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 on September 13, 2010:

i will always be a jazz fun

chickadddee on July 30, 2008:

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