Riverside Records: a rediscovery of 1920s “race records” with 1950s graphics

Paul Bacon and his album art for jazz labels: an interesting exhibition throughout the JazzAscona festival

Throughout the JazzAscona festival, the Ascona Offices for Culture and Tourism and the Museo Comunale d’Arte Moderna organize an interesting exhibition dedicated to album covers art, mostly released by Riverside Records.

Active between 1954 and 1964, the American jazz record company and label Riverside Records was dedicated to reissuing early materials licensed by Paramount, in particular 1920s race records, the famous records that contributed to making African American music popular. 30 years later,

Riverside relaunches this musical heritage, which was almost completely forgotten during the Great Depression, with new technology (from 78-rpm shellac records, one song per side, to 33-rpm vinyl that allowed to finally record several songs on each side) and with new enticing album art designed by artistic director Paul Bacon (also known for his cover work for some of the most important American novels of the time).

The exhibition presents around 200 covers released by the famous American label, part of the private collection of Stefano Wagner, freelancer from Lugano. The show displays Riverside‘s artistic and graphic quality in a period when the record had already become a popular commodity that included packaging as a determining factor of commercial success.

When and where?


Casa Serodine, Ascona
From June 23 to July 1, 2018

Opening Hours during JazzAscona
Mon - Thu:
17:00 - 22:00
Fr, Sat, Sun: 
10.00 – 12.00 & 17.00 – 22.00 
Sun 1.7
10.00 – 12.00

Special Events:
Sat June 23 at 11:00 Official Opening
Tue June 26 al 18:00 Introduction to the exhibition by Stefano Wagner and Alessandro Zanoli

The exhibition will stay open until the end of JULY: Thursday-Saturday (15.00-18.00)