Andy Warhol’s Jazz Gigs

There are many paintings for which Andy Warhol is far better known than the few album covers he made in his salad days. Nonetheless, those covers—like everything he produced, from images of soup cans to those of Marilyn Monroe—are collectors items going for phenomenal prices. I just saw a website offering a mint copy of the Prestige Trombone For Three album for nearly $900 US, plus shipping from Sweden. Since the album is available in CD form with a non-Warhol illustration for about a hundredth of that price, we may assume that most of the tab applies to the cover. And a nifty cover it is.

The music inside was on a 16-rpm long-playing vinyl disc, a product line Prestige dropped shortly after for lack of demand. It included three sessions led by, respectively, J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding and Bennie Green. Here is a track from Green’s 1951 date. “Tenor Sax Shuffle” has trombonist Green as leader with the visceral tenor saxophone duelers Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Big Nick Nicholas; Rudy Williams, baritone saxophone; Teddy Brannon, piano; Tommy Potter, bass; and Art Blakey, drums. It was originally issued as a 78-rpm single, which is how we have it here.

Warhol’s other prominent jazz cover art gig was for the 1956 Blue Note album entitled Kenny Burrell.

The guitarist had Kenny Dorham, trumpet; J.R. Monterose, tenor saxophone; Bobby Timmons, piano; Sam Jones, bass; and Arthur Edgehill, drums. The piece is Dorham’s “Mexico City.” If it seems to you that it resembles Bud Powell’s “Tempus Fugue-it,” that’s because it does.

Like the trombone album, the Burrell is no longer available with the Warhol cover. Its tracks are included in this Kenny Dorham CD.

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  1. KENNY HARRIS says

    Speaking’ of Andy Warhol. Here’s a little bit of useless information. My wife, Nell Bassett, had a featured role in Andy’s movie ‘Ciao Manhattan.’

  2. says

    I bought the Kenny Burrell album the minute it came out and still have it. I transcribed all of Tommy Flanagans solos from it and years later showed them to him when he visited Sandi and me. He peered at them quizzically and said he couldn’t play them.

  3. David says

    Boy, you weren’t kidding about “Mexico City” and “Tempus Fugit.” It sounds like he just changed a few notes to get the royalty payments away from Bud!

    Warhol also did the cover for Kenny’s classic “Blue Lights” albums (Volumes 1 & 2). At the time he was an unknown artist doing mostly fashion illustration. The album covers reveal a talent for drawing and, presumably, an ignorance of what a trombone was.

  4. says

    Kenny Dorham, a thief? Wow! — Now, I will scratch all his LP’s. … Sh.., no, was only kidding.

    The 1st Andy Warhol cover wasn’t obviously a lucky choice for a jazz-by-three-trombones album; it would have rather fit to a disc, featuring medieval music, or ancient Roman … charts.

    Could have also been a nice illustration for the Old Testament’s “Trumpets of Jericho”.