Back in the early 1981 there were very few jazz LPs from the golden age of modern jazz in print. As such we relied on the vagaries of the record companies to reissue random titles. There were almost no concerted themed reissues.
Those that were most interesting often seemed to be from France or Germany. This was the beginning of the major record labels re-organising production to be in the cheaper territories for paying royalties and exporting throughout EEC as it was then known.
One of the first jazz LPs that I ever came across (and I have to admit my record hunting pal found it by searching in the ‘bin’ in front me) was the Modern Jazz Quartet at Music Inn: Guest Artist Jimmy Giuffre. It was a revelation as a 16 year old because it was jazz without saxophones or trumpets. Back then there were not even any books in print about modern jazz (with the exception of Joachim Berendt’s book that focused mostly on mainstream and older styles) so the only way to progress and find more in a similar vein was to assiduously read the liner notes, take note of other artists mentioned as well as seeing who the track authors were.
This first Jimmy Giuffre album lead me on a search not just for chinos and khaki field shorts and loop collar plaid shirts as sported by the ever cool MJQ, but also in search of more music by Giuffre. Within a couple weeks of moving to London in early 82, I had managed to find a Japanese reissue of Jimmy Giuffre 3 (£20 in Dobells – one fortnight’s dole money!) and then, shortly afterwards, a French reissue of this wonderfully laid back album on Verve called The Easy Way.
On the cover Giuffre was sporting a pair of what I called ‘military shoes’ back then, in the American style. Later, of course I could identify them as Florsheim Imperials or possibly Aldens. The dark suit with the no break trousers and white shirt was also an influence at the time, even if did spend most of my time wearing Levis and button down oxfords. As anyone around in London at the time will attest, back then we looked like people from another planet in the time of mullets and chemical wash denim. One benefit was that landladies always thought you were ‘such a nice well dressed young man’ looking as we did like throwbacks to another era.
Record covers were a huge part in this education, both for the clothes and of course the life long passion for the music.