I was listening to Wynton Marsalis on the Sirius XM radio program called In The Swing Seat. He was comparing and contrasting the playing styles of two jazz greats on the piano, Erroll Garner and Oscar Peterson. I don’t pretend to be an expert in jazz history, so it was a wonderful exercise in listening to the differences in their styles and learning about where these influences may have originated.
This program started me wondering what the album art for these artists looked like. Some initial exploration found interesting differences that in some ways support my feeling about their musical styles.
I think of Erroll Garner as a an artist who bridged two eras and two approaches. He was a master of merging stride with a more modern style. An amazing artist with a unique style, and one firmly rooted in the early part of the 20th century. Although he was born in 1925, only 4 years after Garner, I think of Oscar Peterson as a classy, smooth technician of a more contemporary style. Both amazing artists but with different perspectives on the jazz piano.
The album art work shown here all dates from the 1950s. The Garner covers, like his music, bridges the graphics from two eras. From an earlier time on the left, to a more contemporary photographic approach common in the mid-century on the right. The Peterson covers have a classic 1950s color collage and sketch style that was very progressive for its time.
Several of these images come from an amazing Swedish jazz web site birkajazz.com. In their Birka Jazz Archive, they have great images of hundreds of older jazz albums and give detailed credits for the designers, artists and photographers.
This archive is not only a treat for fans of jazz history, but is an amazing reference for the history and trends of all graphic design through the last half of the 20th century. I encourage you to take a look.