Today I’m going to post another track from the Charles Mingus album Mingus Ah Hum in tribute to Neil Fujita who died on 23rd October aged 89. Fujita was a graphic designer and was responsible for the cover art on this album and many other iconic jazz albums released by Columbia in the ’50s.
For Mingus Ah Hum, Fujita used his own abstract paintings, as he did for Dave Brubeck’s Time Out. For other albums he used artwork by other artists and photographers but still managed to convey “jazz cool” and make you want to buy the album. “Buy me and you can be cool too”, the covers say.
Later in his career Fujita’s designs were used on book covers. The most iconic of these were for Mario Puzo’s The Godfather and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.
He went on to teach at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pratt Institute and Parsons School of Design in New York, and continued to exhibit his work locally after retirement. In 2005, he published his autobiography, Mouth of Reddish Water: A Japanese American Story.