During the 1950s Charles White began a notably fertile period as an artist whose work appeared on records of the Vanguard label. Vanguard was a particularly innovative record label, founded in 1949 by Seymour Solomon and his younger brother Maynard Solomon in New York City. The label grew to become one of America's leading independent labels. Charles White supplied drawings and illustrations for a number of Vanguard records, for the most part with 10 inch sleeves. Many of these were jazz recordings, but in one or two instances his illustrations were used for other types of recordings.
In 1955, Charles White provided an illustration for the cover of a jazz recording by the Sam Most Sextet, the record being released on the Vanguard label as part of its Vanguard Jazz Showcase – VRS-8014. Again, it was a 10" mono recording. It was perhaps White’s determination to portray his people that led him to a highly original approach to the sleeve he created for Vanguard’s mid 50s releases of music by Sam Most, then a young American jazz flautist, clarinetist and tenor saxophonist. Most was white and it was perhaps this consideration that lead White to provide his commissioners with a drawing of a pair of disembodied Black hands, playing a flute. Slightly angled, the top and bottom of the flute extended beyond the top and bottom of the sleeve, with a hand on the instrument, in both of the sections of the cover. Perhaps in the manner of Winold Reiss’s portrait drawings, from several decades earlier, of African Americans wearing white suits or clothes that accentuated the beauty of their black skins, White’s black hands on the Most sleeve gave the appearance of the flautist as also wearing white clothing, suggested by nothing more than cuffs, one of which is buttoned. In another version of this recording by the Sam Most Sextet, the imagery of the disembodied black hands playing a flute was duplicated, the two instruments crossing to create a dramatic V shape.
The notes on the back of the sleeve included "The drawing on the cover is what photographers would call a "perspective" and 'angle shot" of a flute and the player's hands, as expanded and recreated in the unique technique of the distinguished artist Charles White. Mr. White's work is represented in the Whitney Museum in New York, the Library of Congress, and his previous drawings for the Vanguard Jazz Showcase series have been on public display."