To celebrate the opening of the Pete Turner exhibition at the Bruce Silverstein gallery in New York [1], I thought it would be a good time to look at one of the most iconic of the A&M CTI cover photographs by Pete Turner. At the same time finally get around to adding an additional pressing of the Wave album, from Brazil, which has an additional color to those previously known.

The original print that forms the “Wave” album cover is shown below. The bright magenta background is how Creed first saw the picture. In Pete’s 1987, H.N. Abrams; 1st edition (January 1, 1987) photobook [2]H.N. Abrams; 1st edition (January 1, 1987) – ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0810916913, Pete describes the picture.

Giraffe – 1964 Pete Turner

Giraffe Kenya, 1964. “In the Amboseli National Park, which is really an enormous, flat salt pan, you feel as if you can see forever. I thought it would be fun to photograph some giraffes while we raced alongside them in our Land Rovers. By the use of walkie-talkies we were able to herd animals in groups. I loved the way their feet came together; you can see that in this particular image. Nikon F, 105mm Nikkor.”

Pete Turner – H.N. Abrams; 1st edition (January 1, 1987) photobook – ISBN-13 978-0810916913

The Color of Jazz

In the Pete Turner / Ashley Kahn 2006 photobook, “The Color of Jazz” [3]Rizzoli; 1st edition (September 5, 2006) – ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0847857982 The picture’s use is described thus –

The image had already seen success by the time it was used on the album. “I had this image of a giraffe with its legs in a perfect stride from a 1964 trip to Kenya. But I didn’t Like the background, which was flat
and colorless. Using an optical printer, I added color as a graphic element.

“It was outrageous for a time when a normal use of color was the rule. But it worked, and as controversial as it was, the red giraffe was selected for the Photography in the Fine Arts exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1967.”

That same year, the giraffe debuted as an album cover. Four years Later, the album was reissued, but a Last-minute printing gaffe transformed the red backdrop into a Lush, verdant sky. “At first I was horrified when I saw it printed in green, but I’ve come to accept it.”

The Color of Jazz – Rizzoli; 1st edition (September 5, 2006) – ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0847857982

In his CTI Discography, sometime ctproduced contributor and CTI historian Doug Payne also notes the green printing error [4]

Used on the cover in both magenta and green, the covers look as follows

What you notice here, as previously discussed, at least one set of USA covers used the wrong color. The other thing that is obvious compared to the original Pete Turner print at the top of the post is that the cover image is flipped, making the giraffe appear to be running from right to left, instead of left to right in the original image.

Creed, Sam Antupit and Pete Turner frequently used this technique, most noticeably of Wes Montgomery’s album cover “Road Song” [5] In the case of “Road Song” the name of the album was picked to match the Turner photograph. There are other examples of this.

That was not true for Jobim’s “Wave”. In a 2008 interview with Pete Turner (PT), Marc Myers/Jazzwax (JW) asked Pete about the cover [6]

PT: When Creed became the jazz arm of A&M records in 1967, he thought we should get away from doing any sort of head shot on the covers. He thought too many covers looked alike. In 1967, he told me he wanted to produce a gatefold album you could open up and put it on your tabletop to see a bigger picture.

JW: Which album was it?
PT: During a meeting Creed said he was finishing an album with Antonio Carlos Jobim called Wave. I had no idea what the music sounded like, which was the case almost all the time. They’d always be recording or mixing the album when the cover was being created. For Wave, Creed asked me to bring in images that I thought would work. But he added, “I don’t want a Japanese wave. I want something different.” So when I got home, I went into my files and pulled a shot from my library of the red giraffe.

JW: When did you take that photo?
PT: In 1964, during a photo shoot in Africa for Esso. The oil company wanted to become associated with Africa and didn’t know how to pull it off. In a meeting at Rockefeller Center, I came up with an idea to photograph an Esso fuel tanker and animal herds running along side of it.

JW: How did the executives react?
PT: They were excited. The head guy had an office so big I could hardly see him at the other end. All I remember is him saying, “Well, we hear you’re really good.” The next thing I know I had first-class tickets to Africa. I got this great big tanker and snuck it into this area and started driving around with the animals. After I got the shots for Esso, I stayed on to isolate and photograph some giraffes for my portfolio. That’s where I made the shot that’s on the Wave cover.

JW: How’d you capture the red and purple colors?
PT: That’s a whole optical thing using special filters and machinery. Actually, the album with the green cover was a mistake. They switched the plates by mistake. But I kind of like that one, too.

JW: Did Creed go for the red giraffe right away?
PT: Yes. I brought the giraffe and other images in a slide tray. As soon as the giraffe came up, Creed said, “That’s it.” So I photographed Jobim in silhouette and we put him small on the back cover with the giraffe wraparound. The rest is history. That broke the cover routine of always having the artist on the front cover. Wave established a model that we used in many of the albums that followed.

JW: So they’d tell you the album title and you’d find a photo in your library?
PT: There was no “they.” There was Creed. And an art director that I suggested to Creed.

[CTP: The art director was indeed, Sam Antupit.]

Pete Turner (1934-2017) –

You might think that’s all there is to know about the picture and cover, not quite.

I’ve never seen the original picture, unfiltered. That’s true at least as far as I know. You can see all the “Wave” albums on discogs, there are some 1,000 pressings, tapes, and compact discs [7]

Earlier this year, through the purchase of a small collection from an A&M collector, this Brazilian pressing grabbed my attention. I’ve added it to discogs today [8] It pretty much looks like another filtered picture. I can’t be sure though. It’s easy to imagine Turner taking a picture near sunset and it looking something like this.

Pete Turner: The Color of Light (Exhibition)

The exhibition is on at the Bruce Silverstein gallery is at 529 West 20th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10011 until May 13th.

The Official Instagram of photographer Pete Turner posted this gallery of pictures and confirmed that the Bruce Silverstein gallery has copies of Giraffe in the exhibition, the gallery print is a archival pigment print, 20 x 30 in (50.8 x 76.2 cm) on a 24 x 34. Part of an edition of 25. The gallery has a few other sizes and types of prints for sale.

For the life and times of Pete Turner please see here. Sometime in the coming months I will add a new post that deals with Pete Turner’s father and his big band career with some historic photographs and programs and cuttings, to expand on the overview in the “Life and Times” post.

Update: Jan. 11th, 2024 removed embedded Instagram link to Bruce Silverstein gallery and replace with images linked to same page.

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