Nov 18, 2020
"Francis Wolff's images of musicians at work are so relaxed and intimate that they capture the spirit not just of the moment but also the era." - Herbie Hancock
It was a real treat to get to spend some time on the telephone with Michael Cuscuna, the legendary jazz record producer, discographer, writer and entrepreneur a few weeks ago. For the past fifty years, Michael has been one of a handful of individuals who have served as the keepers of the flame for jazz, most notably in his creation of archival box sets and previously unreleased material from the beginning of jazz on his Mosaic Records imprint. His work with the Blue Note label alone has given him a place in any hall of fame.
As part of his work with Blue Note, Cuscuna and his business partner, the late Charlie Louria, became stewards of the photography of Francis Wolff. The work of Wolff, an immigrant from Nazi Germany, became one of the defining aspects of any Blue Note album, and many photographs have become iconic. Fans have a chance to peruse Wolff’s work at the Mosaic Records Images website.
Those seeking a closer look can revel in Jazz Images of Francis Wolff, published earlier this year and featuring 150 images and an insightful introduction by Ashley Kahn. Michael and I spoke about Francis Wolff, his life and legacy and those amazing black and white photographs that graced so many Blue Note album covers. As always, his knowledge is encyclopedic, and he gives us all some additional information on the photographs and their subjects. Mosaic Records Images continues to offer fans the chance to purchase limited edition museum quality prints, as well as more recent offerings like prints of contact sheets from historic sessions, and prints on metal.
Podcast 775 is Part One of a two part podcast conversation. Musical selections to compliment the talk include Clifford Brown’s sextet featuring Percy Heath and Art Blakey with an alternate take of “Cherokee” from Brownie Speaks: The Complete Blue Note Collection and Grant Green performing “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” from Feelin’ the Spirit. Part Two will talk about recent Mosaic Record releases, as well as some upcoming albums.