Birka Jazz Home
   On Internet since 1999

The Birka Jazz Archive
Records we have bought and sold over the years - the rare and the beautiful!

Please note!
Birka Jazz record store is closed but Birka Jazz Archive is still available. Scroll down and use the links to browse this comprehensive archive of rare jazz album covers


The pioneers of album cover design

David Stone Martin

The photographic covers

Searching for a modern jazz identity

BLUE NOTE  1500 series
Defining the hard bop style

BLUE NOTE  4000 series
Masterpieces of Reid Miles

Images of East Coast jazz

Street cred with Thelonious Monk

Moods of Chet and Claxton

Cool West Coast, great Sound

Masterworks by Charlie Parker

Small label, big Bird sound

Bold and striking albums

The classic drummer logo label

The beautiful design of Burt Goldblatt

Artist-operated jazz label with Mingus & Roach

Legendary, early 1960s LPs

Free jazz and silk screened covers

Edgy and experimental

The high spirit of Jim Flora

VARIOUS US labels (1)
ABC-Paramount, Aladdin, Argo, Capitol, Coral, Dawn, Decca,
and more

VARIOUS US labels (2)
Epic, Fantasy, HiFi, Imperial, Jazzland, Jazz West, Jubilee, Mercury, Mode, and more

VARIOUS US labels (3)
Roost, Signal, Storyville, Tampa, Transition, United Artists, Vee Jay, and more


The EP era and Metronome Records in 1950s

The LPs in the 1950s, and Swedish jazz abroad

Changing times in the 1960s

New energy to Swedish jazz in the 1970s

Montmartre, Debut Records and the heydays in Danish jazz

Krog and Garbarek, greats in Norwegian jazz

Plenty of merged styles in Finnish jazz

Americans in Paris, force in French jazz

Esquire and Tempo, classic labels in British jazz

Jazz labels with strong identity

Rare Italian jazz covers

From Diamonds to ICP in
Dutch jazz

Unique series of Polish jazz on Muza

Jazz labels around the world


Plenty of merged styles in Finnish jazz

The merge of jazz and rock in the 1970s was more obvious in Finland than in many other countries. The Finnish music scene was dominated by progressive rock and funk that could just as well be called jazz. Many jazz musicans became improvising soloists in rock groups. A driving force in this movement was a record company, Love Records, wich was led by jazz musicians who did not seem to make any difference between rock and jazz.

This mixture of different musical styles was not a new thing in Finland. It had been heard before in Finnish jazz.

In fact, there was not much jazz in Finland in the 1940s and 50s. Bebop or hardbop never really arrived. Small combos with featured vocalist dominated the scene and they played dance music or so called "jazz schlager". It was a combination of American jazz and popular muisic, East European and Russian music, Finnish traditional dance music, and Jewish klezmer.

Real jazz in the 1960s

However, the 1960s brought forth a new generation who created real jazz music. Talanted young musicians like Esa Pethman, Heikki Sarmanto, Eero Koivistoinen and Otto Donner started to compose original compositions, combining hard bop, modal and free jazz with Finnish folk music.

    Esa Pethman

Esa Pethman´s album The Modern Sound of Finland in 1965 is an example of this new musical language. His music is influenced by both folk music and the Finnish romantic composers of the 1910´s. And the album For Friends and Relatives by Christian Schwindt Quintet (with Otto Donner and Heikki Sarmanto) shows Finnish hardbop at its best in the mid 1960s.

    Heikki Sarmanto

    Otto Donner

    Eero Koivistoinen

In the last half of the 1960s the popularity of jazz in Finland diminished, but the way was opened. Eero Koivistoinen issued several LPs and groups led by Pethman, Pekka Pöyry and Edward Vesala succeeded abroad in contests and festivals. Other young talented Finnish jazz musicians were Juhani Aaltonen, Seppo Paakunainen and Pekka Sarmanto,

Prog rock with improvised jazz solos

In the early 1970s many Finnish jazz musicians started to combine jazz, rock and funk. The music of bands like Tasavallen Presidentti and Wigwam is generally regarded as progressive rock, but in fact they played a music close to fusion jazz. In concerts they played a lot of improvised music and had soloists such as Jukka Tolonen and Pekka Pohjola.

Eero Koivistoinen continued in the 1970s with albums like Wahoo and The Front Is Breaking, which gave him a name in the jazzfunk world. The biggest name in Finnish jazzfunk was pianist Olli Ahvenlahti. He managed to inhale the laidback attitude of the genre and exhale a groovy breath of air in his albums Bandstand and The Poet.

    Olli Ahvenlahti

In 1975 the UMO jazz orchestra was founded. This professional big band gave an opportunity to many Finnish players to earn their living as a full-time jazz musicians. UMO has also invited many top international jazz names to conduct the orchestra and to educate its players and Finnish composers and arrangers.

Own dialect of jazz

Among Finnish musicians who cultivating their own dialect of jazz was Edward Vesala. In collaborating with foreign musicians like Peter Brötzmann and Tomasz Stanko, he contributed in several fine entry points of the era such as Hot Lotta and Balladyna.

    Edward Vesala

In the 1980s Finnish musicians were more and more playing with foreign jazz musicians. For instance bassist Teppo Hauta-Aho worked with musicians such as Cecil Taylor and Alex von Schlippenbach. Other Finnish musicians, such as Heikki Sarmanto and Jukka Linkola, composed works that combined elements of jazz and clasical musik.


LOVE RECORDS was founded in 1966 by a Finland-Swedish trio, the jazzmusicians Christian Schwindt and Otto Donner and the journalist Atte Blom. The famous logo was designed by Harri Manner.

The label was pionering in Finnish rock music but also issued jazz, political and ethnic music. Among the first LPs were the legendary Blues Section with Eero Koivistoinen, and the Swedish jazz pianist Lars Werner.

In the 1970s, Love Records issued most of the important Finnish progressive rock and jazzfunk. Before the label went bankrupt in 1979 they had released almost 400 LPs and as many singles and EPs.


Finnish Jazz & Pop Archive

Finnish Jazz

 Esa Pethman: The Modern Sound of Finland   Label: RCA Victor LSP 10040   12" LP 1965
Design: Jukka Pellinen   Photo: Kalle Kultala


 Jazz in Helsinki with Ossi Malinen, Antero Stenberg a.o.   Label: HMV 7EGY 29   7" EP 1958

 Ossi Malinen: Jazz made in Finland.   Label: HMV 7EGY 64   7" EP 1959

 Juhani Vilkki: Jazz.   Label: Parlophone EP 416   7" EP 1965

 C. Schwindt: For Friends and Relatives   Label: RCA Victor LSP 10070   12" LP 1965
 Design: Jukka Pellinen   Photo: Jukka Vatanen

 Lars Werner och hans vänner   Label: Love Records 2   12" LP 1967
 Design: Gunnar Smoliansky

LPs from 1967 and 1969: Blues Section with Eero Koivistoinen (Love Records 3), and
Edward Vesala´s Soulset: Contemporary Finnish (Finnlevy SFLP 9501)

 Eero Koivistoinen: Valtakunta   Label: Otava OTA LP 66   12" LP 1968

 Heikki Sarmanto: Flowers in the Water   Label: EMI Columbia 5E 062-34044   12" LP 1969

 Eero Koivistoinen: Odysseus   Label: Otava OTA LP 69   12" LP 1969

 Eero Koivistoinen: For Children   Label: Otava OTA LP 72   12" LP 1969
 Design: Kimmo Kaivanto

 Eero Koivistoinen: 3rd Version   Label: RCA Victor YFLP 1-804   12" LP 1970

 Edward Vesala: Nana   Label: Blue Master 125   12" LP 1970
 Design: Juha Nyhtänköljä

 Heikki Sarmanto: Counterbalance   Label: EMI Odeon 5E 062-34306   12" LP 1971
Photo: Matti Pietinen 

 Eero Koivistoinen: The Original Sin   Label: Scandia SLP 561   12" LP 1971
Photo and Design: Timo Juhani Hämäläinen 

 Wigwam: Fairyport   Label: Love Records LRLP 44/45   12" LP 1971
 Cover art: Jorma Auersalo

 Seppo Paakkunainen: Nunnu   Label: Blue Master 301   12" LP 1971

 Vesa-Matti Loiri: 4+20   Label: Finnlevy SFLP 9513   12" LP 1971

 Heikki Sarmanto: Like a Fragonard   Label: EMI Odeon 5E 062-34479   12" LP 1971

 Jukka Tolonen: Tolonen!   Label: Love Records LRLP 47   12" LP 1971
 Design: Reijo Porkka

 Heikki Sarmanto: Everything Is It   Label: EMI Odeon 5E 062-34640   12" LP 1972

 Hacke Björksten: Happy!   Label: RCA Victor YFPL 1-802   12" LP 1972
 Cover drawing: Kai Heinonen

 Pekka Streng: Kesämaa   Label: Love Records LRLP 67   12" LP 1972

 Vesa-Matti Loiri: Vesku Suomesta   Label: Finnlevy SFLP 9527   12" LP 1972

 Pekka Pohjola: Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva   Label: Love Records LRLP 71   12" LP 1972

 Eero Koivistoinen: Wahoo!   Label: RCA Victor YFLP 1-806   12" LP 1973
 Design: Reino Kaijanen   Painting: Risto Vilhunen

 Peter Brötzmann: Hot Lotta   Label: Blue Master Special 241   12" LP 1973
 Design: Erik Uddström

 Edward Vesala: I'm Here   Label: Blue Master Special 311   12" LP 1973
 Design: Peter Widé   Painting: Mari Vesala

 Esa Helasvuo: Think - Tank - Funk   Label: Finnlevy SFLP 8540   12" LP 1973

 Heikki Sarmanto: Onnen Aika   Label: EMI Columbia 5E 062-34903   12" LP 1973

 Esa Helasvuo: Omat Hommat   Label: Love Records LRLP 107   12" LP 1974

 Pekka Pohjola: Harakka Bialoipokku   Label: Love Records LRLP 118   12" LP 1974

 Juhani Aaltonen: Etiquette   Label: Love Records LRLP 119   12" LP 1974
 Photo: Edward Vesala

 Eero Koivistoinen, Allan Botschinsky, Esko Linnavalli a.o.: Day Is Over
   Label: Scandia SLP 616   12" LP 1975  Photo: Bengt H. Malmqvist

 Olli Ahvenlahti: Bandstand   Label: Love Records LRLP 126   12" LP 1975
 Design: Anita Westin/Saftra

 S. Siirala - I. Lehtinen: Guitar & Flute   Label: Love Records LRLP 140   12" LP 1975
 Design: Piotr Tomaszewski   Photo: Jukka Vatanen

 Piirpauke   Label: Love Records LRLP 148   12" LP 1975

 UMO: Our Latin Friends   Label: Konserttikeskus KKLP 175   12" LP 1976

 Esko Linnavalli New Music Orchestra   Label: Finnlevy 9590   12" LP 1976
 Design and photo: Erik Uddström

 Mike Koskinen: Sunwebs   Label: Love Records LRLP 157   12" LP 1976
 Design: Jorma Aversalo   Cover painting: Kari-Juhani Tolonen

 Pori Big Band Live 1976   Label: Porijazz PJPLP 1   12" LP 1976

 Juhani Aaltonen - Otto Donner: Strings   Label: Love Records LRLP 160   12" LP 1976
 Cover painting: Kari-Juhani Tolonen

 Olli Ahvenlahti: The Poet   Label: Love Records LRLP 168   12" LP 1976
 Cover painting: Kari-Juhani Tolonen

 E. Koivistoinen: The Front Is Breaking   Label: Love Records LRLP 188   12" LP 1976
 Cover painting: Kari-Juhani Tolonen

 Esa Helasvuo: Q   Label: Love Records LRLP 201   12" LP 1977

 Thad Jones - Mel Lwis å UMO   Label: RCA PL 40096   12" LP 1977

 Juhani Aaltonen: Prana. Live at Groovy   Label: Leo Records 013   12" LP 1981
 Design: Riipinen

 Vladimir Shafranov: Live at Groovy   Label: Kompass KOLP 35   12" LP 1981
 Design: Timo Peltoniemi

 Umo New Music Orchestra   Label: Finnley FL 5123   12" LP 1985
 Design: Kai Kujasalo