Jazz ABZ at The Cummer Museum
posted: January 11, 2010
The Cummer Museum of Art in Jacksonville, Florida is mounting an exhibition of the illustrations for the book Wynton Marsalis and I did together, Jazz ABZ: A Collection of Jazz Portraits. The show runs from January 20th through August 8th 2010. I’ll be giving a talk at the museum on Tuesday, January 26.

The book was a project I started without a publisher. I had the idea for an abecedary of jazz musicians, made a list of one for each letter of the alphabet, and started working on the images in-between my other assignments. Because there was no deadline, and there was the strong possibility that these would never see the light of day, I decided to do whatever I wanted with them, and to borrow (you're right . . . steal) from the artists I admired from each era that the jazz musician is associated with. The list of artists includes Stuart Davis, Paul Rand, Miquel Covarrubias, the forgotten French designer Pierre Merlin, Al Hirshfeld, Juan Gris, David Stone Martin, and Alex Steinweiss.

When Jazz ABZ was published I sent a copy of the book to Mr. Steinweiss, with a note telling him he was a big inspiration on the project, and I hoped he‘d like the book. Steinweiss was the first artist to design graphics for album covers in 1940 for Columbia Records, he’s 92 and living in Sarasota, FL. About a week later I received a note back saying very nice things about the book and inviting me to visit him if I was ever in Florida, so after the opening, Jill and I are driving down to spend a few hours with the master. If you haven't seen the new Taschen book on Steinweiss career, here's a link.
John Dykes January 11, 2010
Florida in January - not bad! Cool project, Paul. And a nice long exhibit. Good luck with that...
Joe Ciardiello January 11, 2010
It's a beautiful book Paul. Congratulations on the exhibit.
David Flaherty January 12, 2010
Very Impressive Paul!
Kyle T Webster January 12, 2010
No matter how many times I have seen these drawings, I always want to look at them MORE! I love this series.
Alan Witschonke January 12, 2010
It's nice seeing these again, as I've admired them since the first time I saw them. Wish I could take a trip down to Jacksonville to see them up close and in person. Only one problem in doing a book like this: you miss other important jazz artists that are just as influential as the ones you've drawn -- people like Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster, Max Roach, Cannonball Adderley, Lionel Hampton, Bill Evans, Abbey Lincoln, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan -- I could go on and on. It's a beautiful book and it must have been an honor working with Mr. Marsalis.
Cathie Bleck January 13, 2010
Many congrats Paul for your upcoming show and the added once in a lifetime encounter with a master. It takes so much discipline to followthrough on a project like your book-kudos! Thanks for getting that book signed for my son James...a real treasure! Wynton is a very generous person-James got to play with him once-he is great to students.
Doug Fraser January 13, 2010
Your design-illustrator-typography sense is damn inspiring. Oh yeah, you draw alright too!
Lou Beach January 13, 2010
Wonderful work Paul, from an old jazz fan. I mean from a jazz fan who's old. Though I like old jazz, too. Oh, never mind...great to see so many of my favorite performers so impressively portrayed.....
Leo Espinosa January 13, 2010
Your book is gorgeous, Paul, and that Taschen book is an absolute gem. Enjoy your visit with the master (and take some nice pics to share with us ;)
felix s January 13, 2010
very cool story paul. gem of a book. i've been thinking of doing something jazz related (self initiated) but exhaust myself thinking about it. you truly love jazz and it shows in your work. btw- i bought steinweiss's entire library in 1999 thru an ad in the back of critique magazine. cool guy. his latest book is breathtaking (ly expensive).
Andy Ward January 13, 2010
It's great seeing all of these together in one image, i've never seen them all comped together before. It must have been a buzz working with Wynton - A landmark piece of work paul. Best of luck with the show
Christoph Hitz January 13, 2010
Great post, take lots of pictures in Florida and hopefully grace this place with a follow up post on Mr. Steinweiss.
Victor Juhasz January 13, 2010
I looked through the book at my local B&N and think it is a masterpiece. Looking forward to having you sign one for my grandson. Paul, since you started this with no set time on completion, when did Wynton get involved?
Paul Rogers January 15, 2010
Thanks for the kind comments everyone. Hopefully I'll bring back some stories from Steinweiss. Working with Wynton was an real honor for me. We met almost 20 years ago and had talked about doing a book together for a long time. I did the paintings first, and then he responded with words and rhythm to create poems that capture the musicians' personalities and music beautifully.
Hope McMath January 22, 2010
Paul, We are thrilled to have your show at the Cummer Museum. I had the opportunity to lecture in the exhibition on Wednesday and yesterday. Well, it wasn't really a lecture...more a gallery talk punctuated with music and poetry reading. People LOVE the exhibition and it hasn't even "officially" opened yet. I can't wait to meet you. 626 564 8728