The trombone is not the easiest of instruments to make work in a solo capacity, and certainly not to look cool with (as the 2010 Young Musicians Of The Year brass heats showed!). It can be done though, as this sleeve shows.
Danish born but US based trombonist Kai Winding‘s 1964 country album turned up in a charity shop recently (and in great condition too, barring a small circular cut-out mark*). Already a very well respected and strong selling artist before he moved to Verve in 1961, Kai recorded twelve albums for them until he moved on in 1967.
This cover has to be one of the coolest looking of them all. Holding his trombone, looking up at the camera while leaning casually against one of the most iconic sports cars ever produced in America, the brand-new bright red Ford Mustang (1965 2+2 Fastback – enough to have me seething with lust in a totally irrational way), they’re both parked in a slightly out of focus leafy West Coast suburb, and it’s a great cover photograph.
The only slight nod to the country music content is the brown shaped text block which kind of echoes a wooden ranch-style name plate, though even this has nice clean lettering where some designers might have been tempted to use something a bit hick.
Musically, Doug Payne’s interesting jazz review website (see links page) rates the album quite highly, with “some exceptionally notable performances.”
The cover shot was taken by Murray Laden, who must have been in there near the start of the vinyl album (his work appeared on a 1956 RCA LP called Easy Listening) but during the sixties he did a lot of cover shots for jazz, latin and similar genre artists on Verve and other labels. He even had a sideline in doing glamour cover shoots; I’ve even seen a 1966 album (Exotic Dances for Wives and Lovers) and one dating back to 1959 (Orienta) which both have girls dressed for the orient (via Hollywood). He also did less exotic studio portrait work, which turned up in Life magazine and Harpers Bazaar in 1965. His work continued into the seventies, and his live photographs were used on the front of the 1973 Styx LP Styx 2.
The cover design is credited to Acy Lehman, who later spent ten years as Art Director at RCA and then did the same job for RCA’s video disc department. If you’re familiar with Velvet Underground’s 1968 Verve label release White Light, White Heat, Lehman did that cover (from an idea suggested by Warhol and executed by one of the artist at Factory).
*cut-out mark – in America where sale or return was very common, when unsold stock was returned, labels were obliged to mark the sleeve in some way to prevent it being counted as a new sale. This was initially done by drilling a small hole through the sleeve corner (later they just took a buzz saw and ran it through the sleeve edge, or even hacked the cover off completely!). These copies could then be sold at a discount.