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The Top 10 Jazz Album Covers of All Time

These classic discs look as good as they sound

Pat Metheny
Bright Size Life (ECM)

When Manfred Eicher’s ECM label emerged on the international jazz scene in the early ’70s, it quickly developed a reputation for crystalline recordings and austere album covers. The latter often featured an abstract, arty photograph with hand-drawn typography. The albums looked like miniature pieces of art. The ECM look was so influential that the folks at William Ackerman’s Windham Hill clearly co-opted the approach for their instrumental and new-age recordings. All’s fair in the record business, I suppose, at least as long as there is a record business. Given ECM’s deep catalog and consistent design approach, it’s nearly impossible to pick one album cover as representative of the label and its influential look. So let’s go with this one featuring the precocious debut of guitarist Pat Metheny, accompanied by Jaco Pastorius and Bob Moses. The arty cover photo is by Rainer Kiedrowski.

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