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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


Americans in Paris force in
French jazz life

Starting in the 1920s, jazz has been a significant part of the cultural life in France. Since the creation of Quintette du Hot Club de France in 1934, France has been one of the leading forces in European jazz.

The first European jazz festival was hold in Paris in 1949, visited by american musicians such as Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, and musicians from the European countries like England and Sweden.

Max Roach and Charlie Parker with Swedish drummer Sven Bollhem in Paris 1949

Don Byas and James Moody with French musicians in Paris 1949

Juliette Greco with Miles Davis in Paris -49

The festival had a great impact on the French jazz life, and established Paris as the capitol of jazz in Europe. Many American musicians have spent time in Paris since then. Sidney Bechet lived there for many years. There was a vibrant Left Bank jazz scene in which expatriates of the bebop era ruled for years including Bud Powell, Kenny Clarke and others. Later Art of Ensemble of Chicago lived in Paris for some years, as did many avant garde musicians such as Archie Shepp and Steve Lacy. They all would have an influence on French jazz.

Django Reinhardt and the French jazz sound

However, French jazz had its own inspirations as well. In the period between the two world wars, jazz became French in the cosmopolitan city of Paris. Django Reinhardt among others turned it from a foreign American music into a genuin French sound that emanated from local bands. That's one of the reasons that jazz became so widely performed in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s and an important part of French culture and entertainment.

The american saxophonist and writer David Liebman describes Paris as a "bouillabaisse of people and influences, mainly from the former colonies which results in a tremendous hodgepodge of musical cultures". He also says that the French truly respond to jazz and enthusiastically embrace it as a people. Therefore, Liebman says, "Paris is the only logical place to live, beside New York, if your are interested in jazz and its offshoots".


VOUGE was established in France in 1948. The jazz catalogue included recordings by native musicians, American expatriates such as Sidney Bechet, and visitors from USA, including Clifford Brown, Gerry Mulligan and Art Farmer.

The company also held licenses to distribute in France recordings made by small American labels, such as Blue Note and Contemporary.


A subsidiary label, also called Vogue, was stablished in England in 1951. Swing Records, established in Paris in 1937, was incorporated in the late 1940s and Vogue continued to issue records also on the Swing label throughout the 1950s.

PIERRE MERLIN was a French designer and illustrator who worked for the Vogue and Swing labels in the beginning of 1950s. He created numerous of cover designs in a style reminding of David Stone Martin.

All his covers are 10" LPs. Many of them are american recordings which were leased by the French labels to be issued in France. Probably by economic reasons they were leased without the use of the original US design. So they made their own covers.

Pierre Merlin also created album covers for recordings made in France, especially traditionell jazz by Sidney Bechet and others. And several albums by American jazz musicians visiting Paris, have covers made by Pierre Merlin.

Pierre Merlin´s last album cover was issued in 1954. He left the record business but continued to work with design. Having also studied architecture he found a specializing in the design of railway stations.

JEAN-PIERRE LELOIR began his career as a photographer in the early 1950s. He has taken numerous photographs for french jazz album covers and published photos in many books and magazines.
His love for music has led him to almost all great jazz musicians, and also other great artists such as Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel and rock stars such as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.


Jean-Pierre Leloir

Europe, its role in jazz
David Liebman

The Django Reinhardt Swing Page

Barney Wilen

 Django Reinhardt   Label: HMV FFLP 1027   10" LP mid 1950s


 Fats Navarro a.o.: Jazz Off The Air   Label: Vogue LD 095   10" LP 1952
 Design and illustration: Pierre Merlin

 Max Roach   Label: Vogue LD 014   10" LP 1952
 Design and illustration: Pierre Merlin

 Illinois Jacquet   Label: Vogue LDE 026 (UK edition)   10" LP 1953

 Dizzy Gillespie   Label: Vogue LDE 039 (UK edition)   10" LP 1953
 Design and illustration: Pierre Merlin

 Red Norvo trio with Charles Mingus   Label: Vogue LDE 061 (UK edition)   10" LP 1953
 Design and illustration: Pierre Merlin

 Lee Konitz: Jazz Time Paris   Label: Vogue LDE 060 (UK edition)   10" LP 1953

 Clifford Brown . Gigi Gryce: Jazz Time Paris   Label: Vogue LD 173   10" LP 1953

 Bobby Jaspar and Henri Renaud   Label: Vogue LDE 041 (UK edition)   10" LP 1953

 Zoot Sims All Stars   Label: Barclay 84019   10" LP c.1953

 Thelonious Monk Trio   Label: Barclay 84058   10" LP 1954   Photo: Herman Leonard

 Guy Lafitte   Label: Columbia 1085   10" LP 1954   Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir

 Zoot Sims Quartet   Label: Vogue EPL 7063   7" EP 1954

 Henri Renaud: Sextius   Label: Vogue EPL 7177   7" EP 1954   Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir

 Jimmy Raney visits Paris.   Label: Vogue LD 201   10" LP 1954

 Lucky Thompson and his orchestra   Label: Columbia 1083   10" LP 1954
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir

 Thelonious Monk: Piano Solo  Label: Vogue 33342   10" LP 1954   Photo: Francis Wolff

 Sidney Bechet avec Andre Reweliotty orch.   Label: Vogue LD 219   10" LP 1954

 Guy Lafitte - son saxo-tenor et son orchestre   Label: Pathe ST 1057   10" LP 1954

 A Little Bit of Don Byas   Label: Vogue EPV 1068 (UK edition)   7" EP 1955
 Photo: Leon Kaba

 L. Hampton and his New French Sound   Label: Barclay/Felsted 85002  
12" LP 1955 (UK edition)

 Chet Baker: In Paris, vol. 1   Label: Barclay/Felsted 85008 (UK)   12" LP 1955
 Photo: J.C. Bernath

   Two french EPs from mid 1950s with Lucky Thompson - Columbia ESDF 1109
and Columbia ESDF 1113

 Gerry Mulligan Quartet   Label: Swing 30.008   12" LP c.1955

 Bud Powell: Le Solitaire   Label: Barclay 3611   10" LP 1955   Photo: Herman Leonard

 Bernard Peiffer   Label: Barclay 74008   7" EP 1955   Photo: Herman Leonard

   LPs from 1955: Rene Thomas on 10" Barclay 84.030, and
Rene Urtreger on 12" Felsted EDL 87020 (UK edition)

   Maurice Vander: Piano Jazz (10" LP - Vega V35M721), and
Jean-Pierre Sasson Quartet (7" EP - Ducretet-Thomson 460 V 067). Both from 1955

 Zoot Sims   Label: Ducretet Thomson 250 V023   10" LP 1956

 Lucky Thompson   Label: Swing 30039   12" LP 1956   Photo: J.C. Bernath

 Bobby Jaspar Quintet   Label: Columbia FPX 123   12" LP 1956   Photo: Bill Savory

 Chet Baker: In Paris, vol. 2   Label: Barclay 84017   12" LP 1956
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir

 J. Lewis - S. Distel: Afternoon in Paris   Label: Barclay MEDX 12005   12" LP 1956

 Martial Solal: Escale a Paris   Label: Swing LDM 30044   12" LP 1956

 Bobby Jaspar at Club Saint Germain   Label: Barclay 84.023   12" LP 1956

 Lucky Thompson & Gerard Pochonet   Label: Swing LDM 30.030   12" LP 1956

   Jo Jaguar (pseudonym for Martial Solal) is an EP from 1956 (Vogue EPL 7.251),
Carl Fontana to the right is an LP (Club des amareurs du disque 3008) from the same year

   EP albums from 1956: Jean-Claude Pelletier trio (Columbia ESDF 1099),
and Bobby Jaspar Quintet (Columbia ESDF 1142)

   EPs from 1956 and 1957: Hubert Fol Quartet (Barclay 74016), and
Henri Renaud Trio (Ducretet Thomson 450.V052)

 Chet Baker Quintet with Bobby Jaspar   Label: Barclay 84.042   12" LP 1956

 The UK edition of the Chet Baker LP above, with different cover and titled I get Chet
Label: Felsted PDL 85036   12" LP 1956

 Barney Wilen Quintet   Label: Guilde du Jazz J1239   12" LP 1957

 Rene Urtreger Trio   Label: Versailles STDX 8008   12" LP 1957

 Georges Arvanitas: 3 am   Label: Pretoria 30 J 3000   12" LP 1958

 M. Davis: Ascenseur pour l´echafaud   Label: Fontana 660213   10" LP 1958

 M. Davis: Ascenseur pour l´echafaud   Label: Fontana 660213 (Holland)   10" LP 1958
 Alternate cover 

 Art Blakey au club St. Germain   Label: RCA 430044   12" LP 1958
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir

   EP albums from 1959: Paris Jazz Trio (Columbia ESDF 1201), and
Suite No. 1 by Martial Solal (Columbia ESDF 1304)

 barney Wilen: Jazz sur Seine   Label: Philips P 77.127   12" LP 1958

 Jef Gilson Septet   Label: Spirit Jazz SPJ 1   10" LP 1958

 Donald Byrd in Paris   Label: brunswick 87 903   12" LP 1958
Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir 

 Donald Byrd: Parisian Thoroughfare   Label: brunswick 87 904   12" LP 1958
Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir 

 Lester Young: Le Dernier Message   Label: Barclay 84069   12" LP 1959
 Photo: Herman Leonard

 Barney Wilen: Barney   Label: RCA 4030053   12" LP 1959
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir

 Georges Arvanitas: Cocktail for three   Label: Pretoria 30.J.3003   12" LP 1959
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir

   LPs from late 1950s: Michel Hausser - Bobby Jaspar: Vibes and Flute (Columbia FPX 173),
and Henri Crolla: Le Paris Sentimental (Vega 305 S888)

 Clifford Brown: Memorial   Vogue 607.30   12" LP 1959

 Barney Wilen: Un temoin dans la ville   Fontana 660.226   12" LP 1959

 The Kenny Clarke Orchestra   Label: Metropole 46001   12" LP 1959

 Humair - Urtreger - Michelot: HUM!   Label: Vega V 30 S837   12" LP 1960

 Art Blakey: Les liaisons dangereuses   Label: Fontana 680203   12" LP 1960

 Memorial Oscar Pettiford   Label: Vogue LD 523-30   12" LP 1960
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir

 Michel Hausser: Up in Hamburg   Label: Columbia FPX189  12" LP 1960

 George Arvanitas: Soul Jazz   Label: Columbia FPX 193   12" LP 1960

 Jef Gilson: Enfin!   Label: CED 30 J 1002   12" LP 1963
Design: Pierre Caron   Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir

 Sonny Criss w. Georges Arvanitas and Rene Thomas   Label: Brunswick 87519   12" LP 1963

 Sonny Criss: Blues pour flirter   Label: Polydor 27004   7" EP 1963

 Jean-Luc Ponty   Label: Philips P77810L   12" LP 1964

   LPs by Jef Gilson from mid 1960s: Oeil Vision (CED AF 1), and
Jef Gilson a Gaveau, big band featuring Woody Shaw and Nathan Davis (SFP 10.004)

 Stuff Smith - Stephane Grappely   Label: Barclay 84110   12" LP 1965
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir

 Nathan Davis: Peace Treaty   Label: SFP 10.003 (France)   12" LP 1965
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir

 Martial Solal en liberté   Label: Columbia CCTX 240502 (France)   12" LP 1965
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir

 Ornette Coleman: Chappaqua Suite   Label: CBS 62896-97   12" LP 1965

 Martial Solal: Son 66   Label: EMI Columbia FPX 314   12" LP 1966
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir

 Martial Solal: En direct du Blue Note   Label: EMI Columbia CTX 40323   12" LP 1966

 Paul Bley: Ramblin   Label: BYG Actuel 529.313   12" LP 1966
 Photo: Giuseppe Pino

 Barney Wilen: Zodiac   Label: Vogue CLVX 9130   12" LP 1966

 Francois Tusques: Free Jazz   Label: Mouloudji EM13507   12" LP 1966

 Francois Tusques avec Barney Wilen   Label: Mouloudji EMI 13517   12" LP 1967

 Marion Brown: Le temps fou   Label: Polydor 658 142   12" LP 1968

 Red Mitchell: One Long String   Label: Mercury 135714   12" LP 1969
 Photo: Claude Delorme

 Guy Lafitte: Blues   Label: Vega 19.171   12" LP 1969

 The Fabulous Slide Hampton Quartet   Label: EMI Pathe C 062-10156   12" LP 1969
 Photo: Christian Rose

 Nathan Davis Quartet: Jazz Concert   Label: Edici ED 0061010   12" LP 1969

 Sunny Murray: Big Chief   Label: EMI Pathe C 062-10096   12" LP 1969

 Steve Lacy: Moon   Label: BYG Actuel 529 352   12" LP 1969
 Photo: Adriano Mordenti

 Jean Philippe Blin: What Matter Now?   Label: Futura GU.GER 21   12" LP 1969

 Paul Bley Quartet with Ornette Coleman   Label: America 30 AM 6120   12" LP c.1970
 Photo: Philippe Gras

 A. Ayler: Nuits de La Fondation Maeght   Label: Shandar 83503   12" LP c.1970
 Photo: Philippe Gras

 C. Taylor: Nuits de La Fondation Maeght   Label: Shandar 83508   12" LP c.1970
 Photo: Philippe Gras

 Sun Ra: Nuits de La Fondation Maeght   Label: Shandar 83505   12" LP c.1970
 Photo: Philippe Gras

 Art Ensemble of Chicago: Certain Blacks   Label: America 30 AM 6098   12" LP c.1970
 Photo: Gilbert Moreau

 Art Ensemble of Chicago: Les Stances a Sophie   Label: Pathé C062-11365   12" LP 1970
 Photo: Jean-Marc Ripert

 Art Ensemble of Chicago: Phase One   Label: America 30 AM 6116   12" LP c.1970
 Photo: Gilbert Moreau

 Art Ensemble of Chicago w. Fontella Bass   Label: America 30 AM 6117   12" LP c.1970
 Photo: Gilbert Moreau

 Frank Wright: Uhuru Na Umoja   Label: America 30 AM 6104   12" LP c.1970

 Roswell Rudd   Label: America 30 AM 6114   12" LP c.1970

 Paul Gonsalves and his All Stars   Label: Riviera 521 149   12" LP 1970
 Photo: Christian Rose

 Dizzy Reece: From In to Out   Label: Futura 16   12" LP 1970
 Photo: Eleonore Bakrtadze

 Archie Shepp: Black Gipsy   Label: America 30 AM 6099   12" LP 1970
 Photo: Gilbert Moreau

 Frank Wright: Church Number Nine   Label: Calumet 3674   12" LP 1970
 Photo: Gilbert Moreau

 Paul Bley: Improvise   Label: America 30 AM 6121   12" LP 1971
 Photo: Horace

 Steve Lacy: Wordless   Label: Futura GER 22   12" LP 1971
 Photo: Alain Gendolfi

 Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Birds of a Feather   Label: BYG 529 023   12" LP 1971

 Freddie Redd: Under Paris Skies   Label: Futura Swing 03   12" LP 1971
 Design: R. Oghia   Photo: Diane Barrett

 Dexter Gordon: Parisian Concert   Label: Futura GER 41   12" LP 1973
 Design: R. Delongeas   Photo: C. Fauchard

 J. Gilson - H. Singer: Soul of Africa   Label: Le chan du Monde LDX 74556   12" LP 1974

 Barney Wilen: La Note Bleue   Label: IDA Records 010   12" LP 1985
 Illustration: Jacues de Loustal