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McCoy Tyner – Sahara album art

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Feb 4th, 2024. Artwork published in .
McCoy Tyner – Sahara album art 1
Source: archive.org Internet Archive. License: All Rights Reserved.

Sahara by McCoy Tyner (1938–2020) was the jazz pianist’s first album to be released by Milestone Records. With more than 100,000 copies sold, it was his commercial breakthrough.

Cover design by Ron Warwell, with a photograph by Clarence Eastmond.

The title is set in a novelty face that started life under the name Freak. It was conceived by Ernst Lauschke (1872–1944), a German-born designer who worked for Barnhart Brothers & Spindler in Chicago. Freak was patented in March 1889. The design has wide proportions with a short x-height and is distinguished by the unconventional modulation with strokes that look a little like drawn-out inkblots. In the early 20th century, this combination of unfamiliarity and perceived calligraphic nature must have reminded the foundry sales force of Asian scripts: by 1925, Freak was renamed to Bamboo, and advertised with references to Chinese arts. BB&S did similar things with Wedge Gothic (→ Japanet) and Dormer (→ Pekin). It goes without saying that these designs in fact have nothing to do with Hanzi or other Asian scripts.

Sometime between 1969 and 1972, VGC issued a phototype adaptation – which probably is the version seen here, used with supertight spacing. There are digital interpretations as Freak by HiH and as Bamboo by Solotype.

[More info on Discogs]

30 point Freak as shown in a specimen from around 1900
Source: search.library.wisc.edu License: All Rights Reserved.

30 point Freak as shown in a specimen from around 1900

A specimen from 1925 shows the design under its new name, Bamboo.
Source: search.library.wisc.edu License: All Rights Reserved.

A specimen from 1925 shows the design under its new name, Bamboo.

Text on the back cover – including the liner notes by Bob Palmer – is set in the Selectric version of  Condensed. The Milestone logo uses  Italic.
Source: archive.org Internet Archive. License: All Rights Reserved.

Text on the back cover – including the liner notes by Bob Palmer – is set in the Selectric version of Univers Condensed. The Milestone logo uses Cooper Black Italic.

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