The History of Jazz Visualized on a Circuit Diagram of a 1950s Phonograph: Features 1,000+ Musicians, Artists, Songwriters and Producers

The dan­ger of enjoy­ing jazz is the pos­si­bil­i­ty of let­ting our­selves slide into the assump­tion that we under­stand it. To do so would make no more sense than believ­ing that, say, an enjoy­ment of lis­ten­ing to records auto­mat­i­cal­ly trans­mits an under­stand­ing of record play­ers. One look at such a machine’s inner work­ings would dis­abuse most of us of that notion, just as one look at a map of the uni­verse of jazz would dis­abuse us of the notion that we under­stand that music in all the vari­eties into which it has evolved. But a jazz map that exten­sive has­n’t been easy to come by until this month, when design stu­dio Dorothy put on sale their Jazz Love Blue­print.

Mea­sur­ing 80 cen­time­ters by 60 cen­time­ters (rough­ly two and half by two feet), the Jazz Love Blue­print visu­al­ly cel­e­brates “over 1,000 musi­cians, artists, song­writ­ers and pro­duc­ers who have been piv­otal to the evo­lu­tion of this ever chang­ing and con­stant­ly cre­ative genre of music,” dia­gram­ming the con­nec­tions between the defin­ing artists of major eras and move­ments in jazz.

These include the “inno­va­tors that laid the foun­da­tions for jazz music” like Scott Joplin and Jel­ly Roll Mor­ton, “orig­i­nal jazz giants” like Louis Arm­strong and Ella Fitzger­ald, “inspired musi­cians of bebop” like Char­lie Park­er, Dizzy Gille­spie, and such lead­ing lights of “spir­i­tu­al jazz” as John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, and the late Pharoah Sanders.

You prob­a­bly know all those names, even if you only casu­al­ly lis­ten to jazz. But you may not have heard of such play­ers on “the cur­rent vibrant UK scene” as Ezra Col­lec­tive, Shaba­ka Hutch­ings, Nubya Gar­cia, Koko­roko, and Moses Boyd, or those on “the explod­ing US scene” like Kamasi Wash­ing­ton, Robert Glasper, and Makaya McCraven. The map includes not only the indi­vid­u­als but also the insti­tu­tions that have shaped jazz in all its forms: clubs like Bird­land and Ron­nie Scot­t’s, record labels like Blue Note, Verve, and ECM. Even the most expe­ri­enced jazz fans will sure­ly spot new lis­ten­ing paths on the Jazz Love Blue­print. Those with an elec­tron­ic or mechan­i­cal bent will also notice that the whole design has been based on the cir­cuit dia­gram of a phono­graph: the very machine that set so many of us on the path to our love of jazz in the first place.

You can find oth­er dia­grams map­ping the his­to­ry of Elec­tron­ic Music, Rock, Hip Hop and Alter­na­tive Music here.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Linked Jazz: A Huge Data Visu­al­iza­tion Maps the Rela­tion­ships Between Count­less Jazz Musi­cians & Restores For­got­ten Women to Jazz His­to­ry

Hear 2,000 Record­ings of the Most Essen­tial Jazz Songs: A Huge Playlist for Your Jazz Edu­ca­tion

1959: The Year That Changed Jazz

Langston Hugh­es Presents the His­to­ry of Jazz in an Illus­trat­ed Children’s Book (1955)

Hear the First Jazz Record, Which Launched the Jazz Age: “Liv­ery Sta­ble Blues” (1917)

Behold the MusicMap: The Ulti­mate Inter­ac­tive Geneal­o­gy of Music Cre­at­ed Between 1870 and 2016

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.


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