Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes

All about Discography and its importance to Jazz fans

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This article is about the term “Discography,” its importance and the enormous benefit it has on Jazz fans. A  discography is the most efficient process used to prove and give absolute credit to the particular individuals, by including the musicians, composers, arrangers and producers responsible for the creation of a musical album. That’s the end result but the process itself, is very painstaking and can take years to complete. The reason why is because decades passed before any data concerning any sound recordings was ever officially cataloged.

Here’s the dictionary definition of  the word “Discography” (Dictionary.com):

Noun, plural discographies:

1. a selective or complete list of phonograph recordings, typically of one composer, performer, or conductor.
2. the analysis, history, or classification of phonograph recordings.
3. the methods of analyzing or classifying phonograph recordings.

The best and most logical approach to learn about Jazz musicians and their contributions (records they made) is with a high quality Jazz Discography. If anyone would be interested in creating a discography of Jazz, they would have to start by learning of all the labels (Record Companies) used to physically produce the phonograph album. After obtaining the names of these companies, then they would be able to begin, in chronological order, to document a sort of database with the names of all the individuals responsible. In a discography the most important information posted and what counts the most is a detailed list of the names of the artists involved, the time and place of the recording, the title of the piece performed, release dates, type of format used (Vinyl, CD, etc.) Here are two examples to get an idea, first a Jazz discography of record label (Prestige) in chronological order (1933-1948.) In the second example you have the discography of John Coltrane only, in chronological order. These examples are from Jazzdisco.org. This website has devoted all their efforts in cataloging Jazz music. They are not completely done and are constantly adding more information from their sources, its an ongoing process but very beneficial for the Jazz fans out because it is in a computer based database. This website and several others, which I will mention at the end of this post, are very effective and very dependable but are not considered to be the indisputable “Official” and most accurate source of information. The record companies have hired certain Discography experts to catalog their records and they have documented it in books, here’s more on Discography and a great list of authors.

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Jazz fan can also go to the websites of these record companies (if they are available) and find the result of all the cataloging, here’s a look at the discography of artists that recorded for the the Verve Label. For real Jazz fans, this is a very cheap and very general manner of looking through a discography of a record label, the website is basically useless and is only trying lure the viewer to buy the music. Let’s Compare the Verve website results with the Discogs.org results. The best way for me to find Jazz recordings is to search for the artists and then find other artists through their recordings. A great way to start is to do a quick search on Wikipedia, I’ll use the great Cannonball Adderley as an example, here. There you can see the albums he recorded as a leader and the ones he was a part of it. That’s a great start but only the beginning, from their you can search through all the discographies available and find out about all the albums he recorded and search the discography of the members he played with. When it comes to Jazz, for example Bebop and Hard Bop, you will notice that most of these legendary Jazz musicians revolved from band to band and took turns leading their own bands. Believe me, you can find some incredible albums that you never heard of and by Jazz greats who are not considered household names. I personally thought I had a considerable Jazz collection but to my surprise, I wasn’t even close. Within the last three years since Jazz Con Class Radio began to broadcast, I have found hundreds of more recordings. This Jazz station concentrates only on Jazz music from the very late 40’s to the early 70’s and I would like to think that there will be a point when my search for great recordings would end but there is absolutely no ending in sight. I can’t even imagine it because Jazz musicians from these years are the greatest musicians that ever lived! Every single song they recorded is a classic! That’s great news for my listeners, they are certainly spoiled and they deserve it! ENJOY!

Here are some helpful links to search/obtain “Complete” discographies (Date of recording, all the Band Members, Record Labels used, all the releases of album and type of format used):

Search Online:

1. JazzDisco.org (Great Source, recommendable!)

2. Discogs.com (Great Source, recommendable!)

3. Lordisco.com (Must pay $9.99/Monthly for full access to the database. (Great Source, recommendable)

4. J-Disc: (Great Discography, recomendable!)

5. Attictoys.com (Discography list of Hard Bop Musicians, information concerning the subject of Discography itself and much more recommendable!)

6. Names & Numbers: (Great Information on Book and CD-ROM Publications on Discographies, You can  order from there also, recommendable!)

6Wikipedia Search (Jazz Record Labels A to Z, recommendable!)

7. BRIAN (Free Software/Application to create your own Discography, recommendable!)

Search for Books:

1. Michel Ruppli on Amazon.

2. Tom Lord on Amazon.

3. Charles Delaunay on Amazon.

4. Brian Rust on Amazon.

5. Jorgen Grunnet Jepsen on Amazon.

6. Walter Bruyninckx on Amazon.

7. Erik Raben on Amazon.

8. Bruce Epperson on Amazon.

Note: I will add more links in the future, if necessary.

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