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The Jazz Discography: Volume 21

The most ambitious discographical project ever undertaken is gradually nearing its completion, with facilities already in progress to allow for additions and corrections in periodic supplements. The current volume contains listings for every known jazz recording made by artists or bands whose names fall between the alphabetical perimeters of John Slaughter and Straight Line Jazz Ensemble, the first and last entries, respectively, to be found within the book’s 600 pages. Some of the more illustrious figures covered here also provide an idea of the broad musical scope embraced by Lord: Memphis Slim, Bessie Smith, Jabbo Smith, Jimmy Smith, Leo Smith, Lonnie Liston Smith, Stuff Smith, Willie “The Lion” Smith, Martial Solal, Soprano Summit, Sousa’s Band, Eddie South, Muggsy Spanier, Special EFX, Charlie Spivak, Victoria Spivey, Spyro Gyra, Jo Stafford, Dakota Staton, Rex Stewart, Mike Stern, Sonny Stitt, and Charlie Straight. Indeed, all styles of music that have ever been even marginally associated with jazz are given fair and equal treatment here, from early band ragtime to fusion and avant garde. One will even find listings for each of the 18 different, largely European, trad bands that used Storyville in their names.

As a matter of fact, there is such a plethora of information here that collectors may feel a bit hesitant to spend so much money for data outside their interests. But such is the nature of general discographies as compared with specialized “style” or “artist” discographies. Walter Bruyninckx tried to solve this problem in the 1980s with his various series devoted to different styles, i.e., traditional jazz, swing, modern jazz, modern big bands, progressive, et al., but the problems of borderline classifications and stylistic boundary crossings made this method in many cases arbitrary and inconsistent, not to mention frustrating to use. Lord’s solution was to integrate in strict alphabetical form the data on the 1897-1942 period, as first codified by Brian Rust, with Bruyninckx’s more updated listings, and then, by means of computerized file-keeping, keep track of new and previously unreleased older recordings, ongoing reissues, and, whenever possible, incorporate recent research on questionable personnels and recording dates. Complete indexes of the more than 500,000 musicians’ names and 50,000 song titles will be published on the completion of the series.

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