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The 5 million copy
bestselling series

All that jazz…

Brainstorming is a not a term that we use much here at Bluffer’s, mainly because we feel that it doesn’t accurately convey the delicate nature of the finely-tuned cerebral processes at work when we’re giving new ideas some serious ‘headspace’ (see The Bluffer’s Guide to Management, under ‘jargon’). But yesterday we brainstormed, unashamedly. The aim of the exercise was to come up with some concrete illustration ideas for upcoming bluffer’s guides. Football was easy. Management revealed a lot of awkward truths about our own attitudes to working. Poetry was derailed somewhere along the way by a Smurf but we found our way back eventually. (Maximum bluffing points to be gained by imparting the fact that Smurfs measure three apples tall.)

Then we got to Jazz. The trouble with jazz (we’re sure that many a prohibitionist article has started with those four words) is that it is much too organic to be contained in a static musical score, a single voice, or place, or even a single decade. This all meant that the odds of us being able to capture everything that jazz is and everything that our guide covers in one illustration were looking remote. There was Ragtime then the Blues, lots of things in between, and then a Dixieland revival, and alongside this we saw Bebop and Hard bop and even Post-bop.

To inspire us our series illustrator brought along a book of jazz album cover art which, it turns out, is pretty good. The name to remember is Reid Miles. Hired in the mid-1950s by the jazz record label Blue Note, he produced hundreds of covers and all without having an especially developed love of jazz. That’s brilliant bluffing.

At first these covers provided nothing but an intimidating benchmark, but we think we’ve come up with something great – so now the arresting graphic design and cutting edge use of typography is less daunting, more inspirational. We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime here’s a selection of our favourite sleeves, or you can wander through this comprehensive catalogue. Yes we know the website is written in French but none of the words are on a need-to-know basis so you’ll be fine.

Before our brainstorm we were as well-versed in jazz as we were in Dutch – so not versed at all (fear not, we commissioned an expert to write the guide). But now, we are pleased to report, the spirit of jazz has been instilled in us.

Emma Smith

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