Product Placement, 1950s Style


I recently came across my Dave Brubeck albums while going through my old collection of LPs and discovered that “Jazz: Red Hot and Cool,” recorded in 1954 and 1955, was done in partnership with the Helena Rubinstein cosmetics company and took its title from a new shade of lipstick Rubinstein introduced. I also noticed that while the tracks were recorded at the Basin Street nightclub in New York, Richard Avedon’s picture of a comely young model entirely in red draped over Brubeck’s piano was taken at the Hungry i in San Francisco. According to the liner notes by Brubeck’s longtime producer George Avakian, women (presumably) who bought the lipstick also got a small Columbia LP with several jazz tracks. I do love the incredibly saturated reds of the ’50s, which is how I think of the era. And while the album has been reissued, history has failed to record the fate of the Rubinstein lipstick.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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2 Responses to Product Placement, 1950s Style

  1. Kirk Silsbee says:

    The woman on the album cover was Suzy Parker, Richard Avedon’s favorite model and the Giselle Bundchen of her day. Alto saxophonist Paul Desmond–in a letter to a friend–noted that three flunkies blew smoke from their non-filtered cigarettes into the already-polluted interior of Basin Street for additional atmosphere.

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