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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

Various US labels

Part 1


ABC-PARAMOUNT was formed in 1955 by the media giant American Broadcasting-Paramount Theaters. The output of the label was pop, jazz and r&b. The first hit on the pop-market came with Paul Anka´s single Diana in 1957. Another success for the label was Ray Charles who left Atlantic for ABC-Paramount in 1959. His first hit for the label was Georgia On My Mind.

Already the second ABC album in 1955 was a jazz record - the Urbie Green LP, displayed among the pictures to the right. It was produced by Creed Taylor who came to ABC from the Bethlehem label. He produced almost all of the about 40-50 jazz albums that ABC-Paramount issued during the second half of 1950s.

Then Creed Taylor was the man behind the Impulse label, the edgy, experimental jazz subsidiary label that ABC-Paramount started in 1960. See the special Impulse page.


ded in Hollywood in 1946. They recorded mostly R&B, but also some jazz. In 1954 the subsidiary label Jazz West was started. Aladdin hung on into 1961. Then the label was sold to Imperial Records.


blished in the early 1940s by Bill Russell and operated from his home in New Orleans.

Russell was in the 1930s an avant-garde classical composer, inspiring John Cage among others. But he stopped composing after he had heard the jazz music of New Orleans, which he found more interesting than what he could write.

    Bill Russell

The American Music catalogue contained mostly New Orleans jazz by musicians such as Bunk Johnson and George Lewis. After the 78-era issues continued on LPs until 1957. Thereafter reissues was undertaken by the Danish Storyville label.


ARGO was established in 1956 in Chicago by the brothers Phil and Leonard Chess as subsidiary of their label Chess. The parent company was focused on blues, and Argo was intended for jazz.

About 150 LPs were issued into 1965. Argo then changed its name to Cadet after objections by the classic and longer-established record company Argo in England. Another c. 100 jazz LPs were issued in the second half of the 1960s.



In 1969 the Chess brothers sold the label and the entire catalogue to General Recorded Tape (GRT), which soon moved the company to New York. In october the same year Leonard Chess died. Records from both Chess and Cadet were still released in the 1970s, but under the new owner, Chess vanished as an important force in the recording industry.


BRUNSWICK was in the 1920s and 1930s one of the large American record companies. Their catalogue included artists such as Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday. In 1942 the Brunswick trademark was sold to American Decca and the label was in the 1940s used for reissues of early jazz. Companies using the Brunswick name also operated in several European countries.

Some few new jazz recordings for the label were issued by Decca in the 1950s and 1960s, along with recordings of popular music. Brunswick's significant as a jazz label ended in 1967 when MCA, which by that date owned American Decca, adopted a polycy of using its own name for issues outside the USA.


CAPITOL RECORDS was founded in Los Angeles by singer and songwriter Johnny Mercer in 1942, with the financial help of the big Los Angeles record store Music City, among others.

Capitol´s first release was a Paul Whiteman record, and the second was "Cow Cow Boogie" with Ella Mae Morse. The latter went quickly to number one on the hit parade.

Jazz formed a large part of the catalogue from the start, and Capitol became an important jazz label with artists like Nat King Cole, Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington among others.

The company also sponsered the sessions by Miles Davis of 1949 that were later issued as The Birth of the Cool.


Capitol was the first West Coast label, competing with RCA Victor, Columbia and Decca, all based in New York. In the mid 1940s Capitol also had a studio in New York and was at that time established as one of the Big Six record labels.

In 1955 Capitol was purchased by the English company EMI. Soon afterward, EMI built a new studio in Hollywood - the famous circular building Capitol Tower.


The British management released other EMI recordings in the USA on the Capitol label, for example The Beatles recordings on Parlophone. But the American management continued to operate the company autonomously, and to orginize new recordings.


Cannonball Adderley was one of the company's most important musicians during the 1960s and early 1970s. Thereafter new jazz recordings decreased in number.


COMMODORE was founded in 1938 by Milt Gabler, owner of the Commodore Music Shop in New York.

    Commodore Music Shop

Among others Lester Young and Billie Holiday recorded for the label in the early 1940s. In the 1950s the label was used by Decca for reissuing earlier jazz recordings on LP.


CORAL RECORDS was formed in 1949 as a subsidiary label of Decca Records. A&R manager was Bob Thiele, in the 1960s known for running the Impulse Records. Various jazz artists were issued on Coral, otherwise the label is remembered for its recordings of the legendary rock&roll singer Buddy Holly.


DAWN RECORDS was started in 1954 as a sub label to Seeco Records (latin music). Dawn´s output was primarily jazz, but recorded also pop and folk music. Around 20 jazz LPs were issued until 1958.


DECCA was established in England in 1929. Five years later an American branch of Decca was founded, which quickly developed a substantial jazz catalogue.

The US Decca soon became wholly independent and the link with the British company was broken for several decades.

Already in 1932 the Brunswick label was bought by Decca. It continued to work as a subsidiary label for both US and British Decca. Another subsidiary label used by the American Decca, was Coral.

In the 1950s, Decca used a black label with silver printing. 1960 it was changed to a black label with a rainbow stripe.


Recordings by the American Decca were in the 1950s issued in England by the London label (subsidary of British Decca). Older recordings from American Decca, Brunswick and Vocalion were in the 1960s issued on the British Decca's subsidiary Ace of Hearts.


DEE GEE was formed in 1951 by Dizzy Gillsespie and a friend, Dave Usher. The label was not long-lived, but issued some few 10" LPs and around 10 EPs. The label was taken over by Savoy Records in 1953.


DISCOVERY was established in New York in the late 1940s by Albert Marx. The label was headquarted in Hollywood in the early 1950s and issued recordings by Art Pepper, Charles Mingus and Dizzy Gillespie among others.

Several of the company´s early masters were sold to Savoy, and the company´s activity declained in the 1950s. But Albert Marx returned with Discovery in the 1980s and started a reissue program. Later he sold the company once again. In the 1990s Discovery was refashioned into a fully contemporary label in the Warner Music Group.


DOOTONE was started in 1951 in Los Angeles by Walter "Dootsie" Williams. The company was recorded all kind of popular music including comedy and jazz. The label name was changed to DOOTO in 1957 and it survived into the 1970s.


DOT RECORDS was founded in Gallatin, Tennessee, in 1950 by Randy Wood. It soon moved to Hollowood but continued to record local artists from across the USA and issued them nationally. The recordings were mostly country, r&b and pop, but also some jazz. The label was sold to Paramount in 1957.

Continued next page

Various US labels  (2)

 Kenny Dorham & The Jazz Prophets   Label: ABC-Paramount 122   12" LP 1956
 Design: Bob Crozier  Photo: Alan Fontaine

Various US labels   ( 1 )

 Urbie Green: Blues and other shades of Green   Label: ABC-Paramount 101  
12" LP 1955    Design: Burt Goldblatt

 Lucky Thompson featuring Oscar Pettiford   Label: ABC-Paramount 111   12" LP 1956
 Design: Bob Crozier  Photo: Doug Quackenbush

 Billy Taylor: Evergreens   Label: ABC-Paramount 112   12" LP 1956
 Design: Bob Crozier  Photo: Alan Fontaine

 Bobby Scott and Two Horns   Label: ABC-Paramount 148   12" LP 1956
 Design: Bob Crozier  Photo: Alan Fontaine

 This Is How I Feel About Jazz   Label: ABC-Paramount 149   12" LP 1956
 Design: Bob Crozier  Photo: Alan Fontaine

 Zoot Sims plays Alto, Tenor and Baritone   Label: ABC-Paramount 155   12" LP 1956
 Design: Bob Crozier  Photo: Alan Fontaine

 Lucky Thompson feat.Oscar Pettiford   Label: ABC-Paramount 171  12" LP 1956
 Photo: Lee Friedlander

 Candido: The Volcanic   Label: ABC-Paramount 180   12" LP 1956
 Design: Bob Crozier  Photo: Alan Fontaine

 Sing a Song of Basie  Label: ABC-Paramount 223   12" LP 1957
 Photo: Milton Greene

 Georgie Auld plays for Melancholy Babies   Label: ABC-Paramount 287   12" LP 1957
 Design: ARW Production  Photo: Alan Fontaine

Ad Lib Records

 The New Tradition: presenting Jackie McLean   Label: Ad Lib 6601  12" LP 1955  
Design: Parboo Singh 

AK-BA Records

 Arthur Doyle Plus 4: Alabama Feeling   Label: AK-BA Records AK-1030  12" LP 1978
Design: Martha Hurd 

Aladdin Records

 Lester Young - Illinois Jacquet: Battle of the Saxes   Label: Aladdin 701   10" LP 1953

 Amos Milburn, Wynonie Harris a.o.: Party After Hours   Label: Aladdin 703   10" LP 1953

   Aladdin 10" LPs from 1953: Lester Young and his Tenor Sax (Aladdin 706), and
Lester Young Trio with Nat King Cole (Aladdin 705)

   Another two Aladdin 10": Amos Milburn Rockin the Boogie (Aladdin 704), and
Illinois Jacquet and his Tenor Sax (Aladdin 708). From 1953-1954

 Maxwell Davis and his Tenor Sax   Label: Aladdin 709   10" LP 1954

 Lloyd Glenn: Chica-Boo   Label: Aladdin 808   12" LP 1956

American Music

 Bunk Johnson: Blues and Spirituals   Label: American Music 638   10" LP c.1951

 George Lewis   Label: American Music 639   10" LP c.1951

 Wooden Joe: A Nite at Artesian Hall   Label: American Music 640   10" LP c.1951

 Kid Thomas   Label: American Music 642   10" LP c.1951

 This Is Bunk Johnson Talking   Label: American Music 643   10" LP c.1951

 Bunk Johnson 1945-46   Label: American Music 644   10" LP c.1951

 George Lewis with Kid Shots   Label: American Music 645   10" LP c.1951

 Big Eye Louis Nelson Delisle   Label: American Music 646   10" LP c.1951

 Bunk Johnson: New Orleans 1944   Label: American Music 647   10" LP c.1951


 Sir Charles Thompson and his All-Stars   Label: Apollo LAP - 103   10" LP early 1950s

Argo, Cadet & Chess

 Zoot Sims   Label: Argo 608   12" LP 1956   Photo: Charles Stewart


 Clark Terry: Out on a Limb   Label: Argo 620   12" LP 1957
 Photo: Lacey Crawford


 Johnny Griffin   Label: Argo 624   12" LP 1958   Design: W. Hopkins

 Paul Gonsalves: Cookin´   Label: Argo 626   12" LP 1958
 Design and Photo: LeRoy Winbuch


 Sonny Stitt   Label: Argo 629   12" LP 1958

 The Colorful Strings of Jimmy Woode   Label: Argo 630   12" LP 1958

 Vito Price: Swingin´ the Loop   Label: Argo 631   12" LP 1958   Design: Don Bronstein

 Ralph Sharon: 2:38 a.m.   Label: Argo 635   12" LP 1958   Design: Don Bronstein

 Cy Touff: Touff Assignment   Label: Argo 641   12" LP 1959

 Barry Harris: Breakin´ it up   Label: Argo 644   12" LP 1959

 Kenny Burrell: A Night At The Vanguard´ it up   Label: Argo 655   12" LP 1959

 Art Farmer - Benny Golson: Meet The Jazztet   Label: Argo 664   12" LP 1961
Photo: Charles Stewart

 Introducing Roland Kirk   Label: Argo 669   12" LP 1960

 Listen to the Ahmad Jamal Quintet   Label: Argo 669   12" LP 1960
Design: Don Bronstein

 Art Farmer: Art   Label: Argo 678   12" LP 1961
Painting: Ernest Fiene

 Dodo Marmarosa: Dodo´s Back!   Label: Argo 4012   12" LP 1961
Design: Don Bronstein

 The Jazztet at Birdhouse   Label: Argo 688   12" LP 1961   Design: Don Bronstein

 Gene Ammons: Just Jug   Label: Argo 698   12" LP 1962

 Gene Shaw: Breakthrough   Label: Argo 707   12" LP 1962   Design: Don Bronstein

 Sahib Shihab: Summer Dawn   Label: Argo 742   12" LP 1964

 Illinois Jacques: Bosses of the Ballad   Label: Argo 746   12" LP 1964

 Dorothy Ashby: Afro-Harping   Label: Cadet 809   12" LP 1968

 Harold Land: The Peace-Maker   Label: Cadet 813   12" LP 1968

   Two albums by Terry Callier from 1972 and 1973: Occasional Rain (Cadet 5007),
and What color is Love (Cadet 50019)

 Muddy Waters at Newport 1960   Label: Chess 1449   12" LP 1962

 Howlin´ Wolf: The Real Folk Blues   Label: Chess 1512   12" LP 1966

Asha Records

 The Lloyd McNeill Quartet: Asha   Label: Asha No.1   12" LP 1969

Atco Records

 Herb Geller: Gypsy   Label: Atco 33-109   12" LP 1959

Avar Records

 Joanne Grauer   Label: Avar Records JG-4839   12" LP late 1970s
 Design and Photo: Bill Matthias

Brunswick Records

 Count Basie   Label: Brunswick 54012  12" LP 1954
 Photo: Hugh Bell

 Tony Scott Quartet   Label: Brunswick 54056   10" LP 1954
 Design: Fran Scott   Photo: Mike Miller

 Tony Scott: Jazz for G.I.'s   Label: Brunswick 58057   10" LP 1954
 Design: Fran Scott

Capitol Records

 Rendezvous with Pegy Lee   Label: Capitol   78 album 1947

 Various Artists: Cool & Quiet   Label: Capitol H371   12" LP 1953

 Stan Kenton: Sketches on Standards   Label: Capitol H426   12" LP 1953

 Gerry Mulligan and his Ten-tette   Label: Capitol H439   10" LP 1953
 Illustration: Kirland

 Miles Davis: Classics in Jazz   Label: Capitol H459   10" LP 1954

 Stan Hasselgard: Classics in Jazz   Label: Capitol EAP1-466   7" EP 1954

 Bob Cooper   Label: Capitol H6501   10" LP 1954

 Frank Rosolino featuring Charlie Mariano   Label: Capitol H6507   10" LP 1954

 June Christy: Something Cool   Label: Capitol H516   10" LP 1954

 Frank Sinatra: Songs for Young Lovers   Label: Capitol H488   10" LP 1954
 Photo: Ken Veeder

 Ella Mae Morse   Label: Capitol H513   10" LP 1954

 Frank Sinatra: Swing Easy!   Label: Capitol H528   10" LP 1954

 Jimmy Giuffre   Label: Capitol H549   10" LP 1954

 Frank Sinatra: In the Small Hours   Label: Capitol H1-581   10" LP 1955

 Serge Chaloff: Boston Blow-Up!   Label: Capitol T6510   12" LP 1955

 Benny Goodman: B.G. in Hi-Fi   Label: Capitol W565   12" LP 1955

 Duke Ellington: Dance to the Duke!   Label: Capitol T637   12" LP 1955

 Serge Chaloff: Blue Serge   Label: Capitol T742   12" LP 1956

 Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool   Label: Capitol T762   12" LP 1956
 Photo: Aram Avakian

 Nat King Cole Sings Ballads of the Day   Label: Capitol T680   12" LP 1956

 Ella Mae Morse: The Morse Code   Label: Capitol T898   12" LP 1957

 Frank Sinatra: Come Fly With Me   Label: Capitol W920   12" LP 1958

 Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely   Label: Capitol W1053   12" LP 1958

 Frank Sinatra: No One Cares   Label: Capitol W1221   12" LP 1959

 Nancy Wilson / Cannonball Adderley Quintet   Label: Capitol 1657   12" LP 1962

 Cannonball Adderley Live!   Label: Capitol 2399   12" LP 1965

 Cannonball Adderley: ;ercy, Mercy, Mercy!   Label: Capitol 2667   12" LP 1967

 Cannonball Adderley: The Black Messiah   Label: Capitol SWBO-846   12" LP 1972

 Cannonball Adderley: Soul of the Bible   Label: Capitol 11120   12" LP 1973
 Design: Roy Kohara

Crystalette Records

 Charlie Ventura: Stomping with the Sax   Label: Crystalette CR-5000   10" LP early 1950s

CJR Records

 Joe McPhee: Underground Railroad   Label: CJR Records CJR-1   12" LP 1969
 Cover drawing: William Roberts

 Joe McPhee: Nation Time   Label: CJR Records CJR-2   12" LP 1971
 Photo: Ken Brunton

Colpix Records

 Chet Baker: The Most Important Jazz Album   Label: Colpix CP 476   12" LP 1964

Coltrane Records

 John and Alice Coltrane: Cosmic Music   Label: Coltrane Records AU 4950   12" LP 1968

Commodore Records

 Billie Holiday   Label: Commodore 2005   10" LP 1950
 Design: John De Vries

 Lester Young and the Kansas City Five   Label: Commodore 30014   12" LP 1959
 Design and photo: Burt Goldblatt

Coral Records

 Anita O´Day: Singin´ and Swingin´   Label: Coral 56073   10" LP 1953

 Mel Tormé   Label: Coral 57044   12" LP 1956
 Design: Piedra Blanca (aka Alex Steinweiss)

 The Al Cohn Quintet   Label: Coral 57118   12" LP 1957
 Design: Burt Goldblatt

 Joe Newman: The Happy Cats´   Label: Coral 57121   12" LP 1957

 Hal McKusick Quintet   Label: Coral 57131   12" LP 1957
 Photo: Burt Goldblatt

 Bob Crosby´s Bob Cats in Hi-Fi   Label: Coral 57170  12" LP 1958

 Zoot Sims - Al Cohn: Al and Zoot   Label: Coral 57171   12" LP 1958

 Tony Scott: 52nd St. Scene   Label: Coral 57239   12" LP 1958

Dawn Records

 The Modern Art of Jazz by Zoot Sims   Label: Dawn 1102   12" LP 1956

 Julius Watkins: Les Jazz Modes   Label: Dawn 1108   12" LP 1956
 Design: Burt Goldblatt

 Jazzville vol. 2   Label: Dawn 1107   12" LP 1956
 Design and photo: Burt Goldblatt

 Al Cohn on the Saxophone   Label: Dawn 1110   12" LP 1956

 Zoot Sims Goes to Jazzville   Label: Dawn 1115   12" LP 1957

 The Modern Art of Jazz by Randy Weston   Label: Dawn 1116   12" LP 1957

Decca Records

 Billie Holiday   Label: Decca   78 album 1940s

 Billie Holiday: Lover Man   Label: Decca 5345   10" LP 1951

 Mildred Bailey: The Rocking Chair Lady   Label: Decca 5387   10" LP 1951

 Jeri Southern: Warm, Intimate Songs   Label: Decca 5531   10" 1954

 Bing Crosby: Bing   Label: Decca DX 131   12" LP 1954
 Design: Alex Steinweiss

 Charlie Barnet: Hop on the Skyliner   Label: Decca DL 8098  12" LP 1954

 Ella Fitzgerald: Lullabies of Birdland   Label: Decca DL 8149  12" LP 1955

 Billie Holiday: The Lady Sings   Label: Decca 8215   12" LP 1956

 Carmen McRae: Torchy!   Label: Decca (USA) / Brunswick LAT 8133 (UK edition)  
Issue: 12" LP 1956   Photo: Burt Goldblatt

 Artie Shaw: Did Someone Say a Party?   Label: Decca 8309   12" LP 1956

 Beverly Kenney Sings for Playboys   Label: Decca DL 8743   12" LP 1958

 Beverly Kenney; Born To Be Blue   Label: Decca DL 8850   12" LP 1959

 Hal McKusick: Cross Section - Saxes   Label: Decca DL 9209   12" LP 1960

 George Russell: New York, N.Y.   Label: Decca DL 9216   12" LP 1960

 George Russell: Jazz in the Space Age   Label: Decca DL 9219  12" LP 1960

Dee Gee Records

 Milt Jackson   Label: DeeGee 1002   10" LP 1952
 Design: Burt Goldblatt

 Shelly Manne: Here's That Manne   Label: DeeGee 1003   10" LP 1952
 Design: Burt Goldblatt

 Shelly Manne  Label: Dee Gee 1003   10" LP   Alternate cover to the album above 

 Dizzy Gillespie  Label: DeeGee EP 4001   7" EP 1953
 Design: Burt Goldblatt

Discovery Records

 Red Norvo Trio with Charles Mingus   Label: Discovery 3012  10" LP 1950

 Art Pepper   Label: Discovery 3019  10" LP 1952

Art Pepper Quintet   Label: Discovery 3023  10" LP 1954

Dogtown Records

 The J.R. Mitchell - Bayard Lancaster Experience: Live at Mac Alester College 
Label: Dogtown Records (no catalogue number)   12" LP 1972
 Design: Geno Barnhart

Dootone Records

 Dexter Blows Hot and Cool  Label: Dootone 207   12" LP 1955
 Photo: Howard Morehead

 Introducing Carl Perkins  Label: Dootone DL 211   12" LP 1956

 Curtis Counce: Exploring The Future   Label: Dooto 247   12" LP 1958

Dot Records

 Lorraine Geller at the Piano   Label: Dot DLP-3174  12" LP 1959