Music and Flowers Matter: Johnny Griffin’s The Congregation on 45 rpm

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Fifties, Jazz

There is an unwritten rule in the community of Warhol covers collectors: one can never ever have enough copies and versions of Johnny Griffin’s excellent Blue Note album The Congregation. So, here we go again!

I seemed somehow to have missed the 2011 release of The Congregation on Music Matters Ltd., in the audiophile “Blue Note The Definitive 45 RPM Reissue Series” (Catalogue number: MMBST-1580). Years before Blue Note’s own Tone Poet series, the Music Matters label specialized in high standard Blue Note reissues.

Because of its 45 rpm speed, the album was released on double 180 grams vinyl and packaged in a deluxe glossy gatefold cover. In fact the same type of packaging, printed at Stoughton Printing Co., as the current Tone Poet series. And inside of the gatefold: excellent photos by Francis Wolff of the artists on the album.

Two aspects of this cover for me made the purchase a must:

A great photo of Johnny Griffin I had not seen before, in a flower shirt that most likely inspired Warhol’s cover drawing.

And secondly (returning readers are familiar with my obsession with the colors of the flowers): I take off my hat to Stoughton Printing, they managed to really match the colors with the original 1958 laminated cover. Below some pictures:

Johnny Griffin, The Congregation, 2011 release on Music Matters label. Cover design by Reid Miles and Andy Warhol.
Johnny Griffin. Photo by Blue Note co-founder Francis Wolff.
Paul Chambers, Sonny Clark and Johnny Griffin (twice). Photos by Francis Wolff.
Closer shot of Johhny Griffin in his flower shirt.
45 Stereo Long Playing.
The 1958 laminated cover has yellowed with age, the 2011 Music Matters copy is white as snow. But the colors of the flowers are quite the same. Excellent job by Stoughton Printing Company.

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