We’ve just had a very long and illuminating chat with Paul Bacon, the first designer with Blue Note Records, who subsequently worked with Riverside and did a great many album sleeve designs for Bill Grauer and Orin Keepnews. Bacon was good friends with Monk, met him the first time he visited Blue Note’s offices and when Bacon went to work for Riverside he did almost all of Monk’s album covers, including the one where he’s sitting in the little red cart. Paul told us how it happened.
“Harris Levine, my friend, who worked in Riverside’s design department, photographer Paul Weller and I were with Monk trying to get him to go along with our idea for shooting the cover for the album, ‘Monk’s Music.’ Monk was having none of it, he hated our ideas and we were going nowhere. Monk got really upset and walked over to the other part of the studio and sat in the little red delivery cart. I saw this out the corner of my eye and kept Harris talking and then quietly indicated to Paul to get a camera. Paul walked on over to Monk and Monk looked up from the score he was studying, nodded, and Paul took the shot. It worked out pretty good.”
Paul kindly shared some other stories with us and we’ll be featuring them regularly here on the Jazz Word.