Album Cover of the Week: Undercurrent

Less than a month after playing a series of shows at New York’s fabled Village Vanguard jazz club in June 1961 – that would be immortalized with a pair of live albums, Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for DebbyBill Evans was rocked by tragedy when his bassist and musical partner, Scott LaFaro, died in a car accident at age 25.

Devastated, Evans recorded and performed very little for the rest of 1961 and the beginning of 1962.  In April and May of that year he entered the studio with guitarist Jim Hall and recorded the first album with his name on it since LaFaro’s death – Undercurrent.

Bill Evans and Jim Hall - Undercurrent

This is the original album cover as released on the Blue Note label.  It’s a very simple shot and yet a very powerful one.  The original image was taken in 1947 by famed photographer Toni Frissell, and it’s called “Weeki Wachee spring, Florida”.  As you can see by looking at the original, Blue Note saw fit to add not just that interesting (some might say cheesy) watery-looking font but a strong blue tint.  This was a common practice of the label, and was usually done to great effect.

Nevertheless, subsequent issues of Undercurrent have not only omitted the font but the tinting as well.

Bill Evans and Jim Hall - Undercurrent reissue

I’m not sure why the extra grain was added, as it certainly isn’t present in the original photo.  If they didn’t plan on presenting the photo as is, I’d prefer they just stick with the original blue version.

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