THE LATIN JAZZ CORNER: Album Artwork Catches Our Attention With A Great Visual
by Chip Boaz, January 2010
The ability to stand out in a crowd has always been important in the musical world, but the digital age has amplified that necessity tenfold. When we visit a digital download store like iTunes or Amazon, we are offered a massive amount of choice. At its most basic level, this is a good thing, because we can almost always find something we like. It also makes choice an issue since we are overwhelmed with the amount of music before us. We don’t “see” the music in the store though – our first point of entry is pages upon pages of album covers. Some people may start clicking and checking out samples, but many of us let our eyes travel over the page, searching for something interesting. A sea of bland album covers leaves us cold, and most likely we’ll continue our search. There are moments when we’ll stop to look a little closer though – when we run across an especially vibrant or exciting album cover, something that looks different or intriguing, or something that references culture in a unique way. These visuals draw us into the recording and help us overcome the album “blindness” inherent in digital download stores. They create an advantage that is absolutely necessary in today’s musical world.
The artwork for Paul De Castro Y Su Orquesta Dengue’s album Bueno Pá Gozar leaps off the screen with a distinct personality. The cover features the work “Carnaval en la Trocah” from visual artist Lili Bernard – a colorful and joyous piece of art that radiates with Caribbean spirit. The bright colors capture your eye and the festive atmosphere demands your attention, promising a good time. From there, the artwork contains lots of detail; its the kind of piece that reveals more every time that you look at it. Most of the imagery revolves around music with a variety of people, young and old, playing or dancing. It’s a double delight since the artwork reflects the album in a very real way. The recording plays upon tradition but casts Latin Jazz in a new light, as a result of the group’s use of timba practices. Older musicians, representing tradition, and younger people, representing the new interpretations, all rejoice together in the artwork – just as the old and new musical ideas interact on the album. It’s a great package that stands apart when set in the static environment of a digital download store.