Mosaic Records has made a profound impact upon the jazz marketplace with its unparalleled boxed sets, but there is another aspect of the Mosaic brand that is equally important. Mosaic Images maintains the complete collection of the art of the peerless photographer and co-founder of Blue Note Records, Francis Wolff. His brilliant imagery is as much a part of the Blue Note mystique as its wonderful music, and in conjunction with the iconic label's 75th anniversary, Mosaic has assembled the Blue Note 75th Anniversary Portfolio, a commemorative portfolio of seven of Wolff's most outstanding photographs of artists from the label's classic era. Nothing posed, everything in the purity of the moment, yet every image is so impeccably balanced that it looks like Wolff could have spent hours framing it.
Art Blakey, drum master and founder of the Jazz Messengers - one of the music's most important "universities" - is perfectly framed by cymbals, snare and toms, his face in concentrated intensity as he presses his elbow into his snare to get the ideal pitch for the drumstick poised to strike.
The ice-hot turbulence of the immortal Miles Davis is caught in a moment of relaxed focus, the model of the cool attitude that he embodied in that era as he blows smoothly into his trumpet. Horn bent forward in his familiar manner, framing J.J. Johnson in the background, and casually but elegantly dressed as always.
A young Herbie Hancock, one hand hovering over the piano keys, looks over his shoulder; his eyes, viscerally communicative behind his glasses, clearly sending a meaningful look of unspoken instruction to whoever was its recipient.
The utterly singular Thelonious Monk at his first session as a leader, sitting calmly in front of the piano, pointing to his musicians to drive home a concept; the shadow of his body and arm smears against the wall behind him and wraps itself around his chest in a gentle embrace.
Horace Silver, one of Blue Note's signature artists, bent forward over the piano, his ultra-long fingers poised to strike, wisps of hair dangling over his forehead and deep shadows making transforming his eyes into endlessly deep pools of smoldering heat.
Jimmy Smith, who redefined the B3 organ's modern jazz vernacular in a series of groundbreaking Blue Note albums, is captured at a Philadelphia club, huge hand spread like a lion's paw ready to viciously strike, his face contorted in a rage of agonized joy, screaming to match those of the audience that were undoubtedly accompanying him in the fury.
From the legendary Blue Train session, the magnificent John Coltrane preaching through his tenor in brooding profile, with Curtis Fuller in the background, his eyes framed between the neck of the tenor and his trombone's slide. The photo splendidly captures the intense depth of Trane's vision as he focuses on that miraculous place that only he could see.
Francis Wolff's genius was his innate ability to portray every aspect of the making of music - playing, discussing, looking over charts, sharing a joke, relaxing between takes - and simultaneously depicting the essence of the musicians with the clarity and depth of Yousuf Karsh. Even more remarkably, he was able to do this with an almost voyeuristic privacy that simply seemed to go unnoticed by the subjects of his artistry. The moments he froze in posterity are so sublimely real and immediate that they make the viewer feel exactly what it was to have been there at that very moment, sharing in an intimacy that is incredibly enriching and transcendent.
This limited edition portfolio (only available through December 31, 2014) comes in a fine, hand-made folio designed as a stylish brief, with a folded-over flap secured with a magnetic closure. They are constructed of archival binder board (.098), bound in smooth, black, linen-textured fabric. The lining is of acid-free paper in bright white. Each folio contains a vellum sheet commemorating Blue Note Records' 75th Anniversary with information about all 7 photographs. These 11" x 17" fine art prints with an image size of 10" x 10" are made with archival pigment inks on 100% acid-free Hahnemuhle watercolor paper with a matte finish.
This limited edition set is available exclusively from Mosaic Records.