The FontFeed loves Blue Note Records and Reid Miles, so it was with great pleasure that I discovered the Barack Obama’s Jazz website. It is fascinating to see how the figure of the first African-American president of the USA continues to inspire the creative community, as witnessed for example in the Artists For Obama poster gallery four years ago. The Barack Obama’s Jazz collection was produced by art director, creative director and designer JC Pagán. The concept is similar to the excellent Almost Blue resource. All inspired by classic and modern Blue Note covers, the mock album sleeves recreate them with the newly re-elected President Obama. I had a quick e-mail exchange with the artist of this project.
This effort is a celebration of Barack Obama’s love for Jazz, and for being as cool as the music itself. It was and still is my way to show support to the President during the election and beyond, using two of the things I love the most: jazz and art. It just felt like a natural thing to combine both in representing the President. Using the iconic Blue Note sleeves as reference material made total sense, especially since they have been an inspiration in my work through out the years.
Although all the designs are based on Blue Note covers (past and current), I tried to make them my own as well. It is very much like jazz – when an artist covers someone else’s composition, they infuse it with their own personality and creativity. I applied this mentality to this project. When I initially started I considered doing other labels as well, but I have a deep appreciation for Blue Note Records, and – let’s face it – those designs are the best and the coolest. My personal favorites are Cool Struttin’, inspired by Sonny Clark’s album of the same name; Hope Train, inspired by John Coltrane’s Blue Train, Our Man in D.C., inspired by Dexter Gordon’s Our Man in Paris; and Forward Radio, inspired by Robert Glasper’s Black Radio.
As the page started to get some awareness, Blue Note was very supportive of my project and I decided to keep it all Blue Note. As I continue to do more covers in the future I may do a non-Blue Note series. I started the covers and the page in April 2012. By the time I had done about 10–15 covers, a blog post by Peter Hum in late September really helped to showcase the page.
Although I quite like the whole concept of the Barack Obama’s Jazz collection, I am a little disappointed in the execution of the typography. As with so many tribute projects, this crucial aspect of what made the Reid Miles designs so ground-breaking (and still relevant after half a century) was insufficiently researched. Some typefaces look out of place, and a couple of unfortunate typographic hiccups mar the series. But other than that, another fine example proving how influential and inspirational the legacy of Reid Miles continues to be.