James (Jim) Flora’s wild jazz and classical album covers for Columbia Records (late 1940s) and RCA Victor (1950s) have bedazzled a growing fan base. He also wrote and illustrated seventeen popular children’s books and flourished for decades as a commercial illustrator. Flora (1914-1998) was a one-man image factory. Few knew, at the time, that he was also a prolific fine artist with a devilish sense of humor and a flair for juxtaposing playfulness, absurdity, and violence. Cute—and deadly.
Flora’s album covers pulsed with angular hepcats bearing funnel-tapered noses and shark-fin chins, fingering cockeyed pianos and honking lollipop-hued horns. Yet this childlike exuberance was subverted by a tinge of the diabolic. Flora wreaked havoc with the laws of physics, conjuring flying musicians, levitating instruments, and wobbly dimensional perspectives. Taking liberties with human anatomy, he drew bonded bodies and misshapen heads, inked ghoulish skin tints and grafted mutant appendages. He was not averse to pigmenting jazz legends Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa like bedspread patterns. On some Flora figures, three legs and five arms were standard equipment, spare eyeballs optional. His fine-art works reflect the same comic yet disturbing qualities.
Together with Flora Archivist, Biographer, Preservationist, Manager of Artist Estate – Irwin Chusid & Barbara Economon – who’s lovingly restored all the Jim Flora album covers… Moochin’ About is releasing a series of 3 boxsets and a number of limited edition vinyl releases, celebrating the great mans album artwork, which feature artists such as jazz legends Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Sidney Bechet, Shorty Rogers, Andre Previn Esquivel, Charlie Ventura, Kid Ory, Bix Beiderbecke and Jimmy Dorsey… as well as British poet, Edith Sitwell and her classic recording with William Walton’s ‘Facade’…
So stay tuned and hold tight for hepcats bearing funnel-tapered noses and shark-fin chins, fingering cockeyed pianos, honking lollipop-hued horns, flying musicians, levitating instruments….!