The Troy Street Observer

Jackie and Roy and Storyville Records

Jackie and Roy, STLP 322
Jackie and Roy, Storyville LP 322, 1955. This one was recorded on the East Coast.

Neither vocalist extraordinaire Jackie Cain, who died on September 15, nor her husband and musical partner, Roy Kral, ever claimed a particular closeness to the Boston scene. But Boston did them a good turn—it housed the record company that gave them a chance to strut their stuff when they were just starting to make it as a duo act. The two albums they recorded for the Storyville label in 1955 set the tone for the two dozen that would follow in terms of musicianship and choice of material. “Finally,” wrote Jack Tracy in his review of the first of these, “Mr. and Mrs. Kral have been recorded the way they sound on personal appearances.”

The partnership of Jackie and Roy was formed in 1946 in Chicago, where Jackie was singing with Jay Burkhart’s orchestra, and Roy was playing piano with George Davis at a club called Jump Town. Bob Anderson, a saxophonist with Burkhart who had worked with Kral in earlier days, brought Cain to Jump Town to sit in. They clicked. Soon Cain was the regular singer, and people noticed. Bandleader Charlie Ventura was one, and he hired them both in late 1947. Jackie and Roy were on their way.

Fast forward to May 1954, with Jackie and Roy in Boston for a week at Storyville, where owner George Wein signed them to his Storyville Records label. In late 1954 or early 1955, the duo recorded Jackie and Roy (STLP 322) as part of the Storyville Presents series. Their backing was excellent: Barry Galbraith on guitar, Bill Crow on bass, and Joe Morello on drums. The 10-inch LP featured eight tunes, a now-famous Burt Goldblatt cover photo, and glib George Frazier liner notes.

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August 30, 2006: The Album Covers of Burt Goldblatt

Cover of Ball at Bethlehem
Ball at Bethlehem with Braff, Bethlehem 1034, 1955

The multitalented Burt Goldblatt was born in Dorchester in 1924, and was residing in Hopkinton, Mass., at the time of his death on August 30, 2006. He was successful as an illustrator, caricaturist, photographer, and author, but many record lovers know him primarily as a designer of album covers. He designed some real beauties, such as the ones here, done for Boston jazz artists.

Goldblatt served in the Army during World War II, then studied at the Massachusetts College of Art. He worked in a print shop and mastered the technical processes of printing, freelanced as a commercial artist, and taught himself photography. He moved to New York in 1953 and for the next two years worked as a designer for CBS Television. He worked as a freelance photographer, art director at Metronome magazine, and album cover designer—jazz album covers, because that was his music. The bulk of his work was for labels like Savoy, Storyville, and Bethlehem.

Cover of Lee Konitz at Storyville
Lee Konitz at Storyville, Storyville LP 304, 1954

When Goldblatt hit his stride, his covers achieved visual impact by combining simplicity and perspective—he’d use one strong image and a minium of type, and his point of view in that image would be from above or below, but rarely straight on. And he was able to experiment and innovate within his minimal designs, as with the Mariano and King LPs and the Braff EP here. Francis Wolff at Blue Note learned much from Goldblatt. There are many website designers today who could profit from his lessons as well.

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