After first building an interactive visualization that lets users explore and listen to Miles Davis' many collaborations, we decided to design a printed poster to see how a single set of data can be designed and tailored to different mediums. In the print version, the data evolved into the shape of a record, with thin arcs marking the grooves, and the circular shape representing the timeline of Davis’ career.
Measuring 24” x 36”, this offset poster is printed on 80# French Construction Nightshift Blue with two impressions of metallic gold and light blue opaque inks printed on both sides of the paper.
The outermost ring shows the timeline of Miles’ sessions, from his first on April 24, 1945, to his last recording on August 25, 1991. Within the outermost ring, the 577 artists that collaborated with Miles are depicted by over 2,000 bars. Each bar represents a musician collaborating in a recording session over time.
Each bar corresponds with the dated sessions along the outermost timeline. Artists who played with Miles multiple times have their sessions connected with thin gold arcs. We called out a few albums that were particularly representative of the genres Miles played during his career. The recording sessions that contributed to one of the key albums is shown in blue instead of gold. We included names for the musicians who either contributed to one of those albums, or who played often with Miles (i.e. nine sessions or more).
The project might sound familiar. Back in April we released an interactive web app based on Miles’ forty-six years of recording, as documented by the Jazz Discography Project. The data encompasses the full personnel for 405 recording sessions, amounting to 577 musicians, and the albums released from those tracks.
One of the reasons we are excited about this poster is that it gives us a chance to demonstrate how the same dataset can take different forms depending on the medium. In the web app, details about the collaborators are revealed as you interact with them.
With this iteration, we were able to include the full timeline of each musician’s collaboration with Miles. On the back, we list each musician organized by the instrument they played most frequently, and chart the number of sessions they recorded on.
If you (or anyone you know) dig Miles, jazz, beautifully printed posters, or shiny gold things, you can purchase the print here*. In the meantime, stay cool my friends...
*As of 2022, we no longer sell our posters online, but office visitors may get a special goodie bag...