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Compilation and Display of Solo Information
in Jazz Discography

Noal Cohen


Although improvised solos comprise the heart and soul of jazz music, discographies, at least the ones that have attempted to cover the entire gamut of the genre [1] such as those by Schleman, [2] Delaunay, [3] Rust, [4] Jepsen, [5] Bruyninckx, [6] Raben, [7] and Lord, [8] have excluded solo information (except for vocal credits). [9] Historically, these discographies were designed and utilized as catalogs of recording details that omitted analysis of the musical performances. And as the volume of recorded jazz expanded due to the music’s popularity and technological advances, another factor came into play: The wide-net approach mandated by these comprehensive publications — eventually covering thousands of recordings — was clearly incompatible with the level of scrutiny required to acquire solo data. [10] The time and labor needed to accurately compile such details reach impractical levels. Thus the reporting of solos has been left to certain specialist discographers focusing, for example, on a single artist, [11] and even in many of those cases, the required investments in effort and time can be daunting.

Given the original intent and scope of jazz discography, one might question whether it is appropriate or necessary to include solo information in such works, but certainly, the more data presented characterizing the performances, the more useful the project will be to musicians, historians, researchers, and collectors. In general, a discography with solo information serves as a comprehensive listening guide that indicates when the artists are featured and in what context. More specifically, the solo data reveals how alternative takes of a given song differ which, in turn, suggests clues as to what the artists involved may have been striving for and provides opportunities for solo comparison. It also directs attention to the manner in which a soloist’s explorations of frequently recorded material evolve over his or her career.

Historical Survey

A survey of discographies containing solo information reveals much painstaking analysis and in some cases arcane methods of displaying the data. At the outset, it is useful to define the parameters that could be used to characterize solos associated with a given performance:

Of course, these seemingly straightforward descriptors involve a number of potentially complicating variations including:

As with most aspects of discography, there exist no universally accepted rules for the scope and display of solo information. Some authors have opted to include data only for the subject artist while others show information for all soloists. What follows is a summary of several published artist discographies and related publications to get some idea of how this challenge has been addressed. It should be noted that the examples, presented chronologically by publication date, were selected because they conveniently illustrate various approaches, but the list should not be considered comprehensive.

Critical Discography of the Best Jazz Records [12]

Not a traditional discography, Hugues Panassié’s evaluation of selected jazz recordings from 1921–1951 is an early example of a sub-genre that would become known as “solography” (more on this below) but including all soloists, not just a single subject. The display is similar to personnel listings in discographies, only presenting the soloist, instrument, and solo order as in this example from a 1942 Duke Ellington recording:

  Duke Ellington (p), Ray Nance (violon), Rex Stewart (tp), Ben Webster (ts), Tricky Sam [sic] (tb), Barney Bigard (cl).

Stan Kenton Bio-Discography [13]

Here only soloists and solo order are provided. Soloists are listed by initials under the song title as in this example from a Capitol Records session of July 8, 1953:

arr-BR; sol-SL, SK, CC, LK

What this describes is Stan Levey (drums — actually a 4-bar introduction), Stan Kenton (piano), Conte Candoli (trumpet), and Lee Konitz (alto saxophone). The arranger is Bill Russo.

Glenn Miller Bio-Discography [14]

Soloists and instruments are listed under the tune title but no further information is provided. This example is from an RCA Victor session on April 18, 1939:

035767-1Runnin’ Wild (arr BF)
(Joe Grey–Leo Wood–Harrington Gibbs)
Ts, Beneke; tpt, McMickle; ts, Beneke; d, Purtill

Fletcher Henderson Bio-Discography [15]

Following each song title, the author presents the complete solo routine with durations in bars. Here is an example from a Henderson sextet radio broadcast on December 14, 1950:


(Ens with brks by clarinet, tenor sax & trumpet, 12 b; Thompson tenor sax, 24 b; Vance trumpet, 24 b; Barefield clarinet, 24 b; Thompson tenor sax, 4 b; Vance trumpet, 4 b; Barefield clarinet, 4 b; Crawford drums 4 b.) Time 3:18

V-Disc Discography [16]

In this specialized discography akin to label discographies, Sears provides soloist information (names when known and instruments only) in brief paragraphs as in the following excerpt from a Jimmy Dorsey recording session on July 12, 1944:

V-Disc 283-AThe Great Lie
VP 796 - D4TC 243
Arranged by Albert “Andy” Gibson
Solos by piano (Wright), alto sax (Dorsey), trumpet, guitar, tenor sax (Dukoff) and trumpet

Count Basie Bio-Discography [17]

Sheridan’s comprehensive work includes information for all soloists in order following the session and listed by track designation (letter). Initials are used for performers and instruments are indicated, but neither durations nor tempi are addressed. Here is an example for “Taps Miller” from the Columbia recording session of December 6, 1944:

aCO33953-1TAPS MILLER (3:20)  aWBC
SOLOISTS: (a) asJP, tsGBT, tpHE, tsELT, tbWDW, pCB

Translation: alto sax, Jimmy Powell; tenor sax, George ‘Buddy’ Tate; trumpet, Harry Edison; tenor sax, Eli ‘Lucky’ Thompson; trombone, William ‘Dicky’ Wells; piano, Count Basie. The arranger is Wilbur ‘Buck’ Clayton.

It should be noted that in his subsequent projects covering Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley, [18] Thelonious Monk, [19] and Milt Jackson, [20] Sheridan does not include solo information.

Lester Young Bio-Discography [21]

The author discusses the solos in a detailed analysis of each track of a session. Here is a sample from the Aladdin Records quintet session of December 29, 1947:

“Tea For Two (ABAC) Di Novi plays an 8-bar introduction at a fast medium tempo followed by Lester with two choruses. Wayne and Di Novi share the third chorus, after which Lester plays another one, the number then finishing with the second half of a chorus.”

The analysis continues with a historical reference for comparison and a critical evaluation of Young’s performance.

Oscar Pettiford Discography [22]

Only Pettiford’s solos are indicated with an S following the track titles and no distinction is made between bass and cello solos. From Pettiford’s August 12, 1955 Bethlehem session:

Another One S (4.08)
Minor Seventh Heaven S (4.07)
Stardust S (3.29)
Bohemia After Dark S (5.28)
OscalypsoS (2.23)
Scorpio (7.36)
Titoro (4.14)
Don’t Squawk S (4.15)
Kamman’s A’Comin’ S (5.08)

George Duvivier Discography/Solography [23]

Only Duvivier’s solos are listed with s denoting a solo, sf denoting a solo feature and ns denoting no Duvivier solo on an entire album:

February 3, 1957 New York
Thad Jones
The Magnificent Thad Jones, vol. 3 (Blue Note 1546)

Slipped Again (s)
Thadrack (s)
Let’s (s)

Jimmie Lunceford Discography [24]

Here only the soloists’ initials are used as shown in this example from a 1939 Vocalion recording session:

New York August 2, 1939

35a)Who did you meet last night
a: WB v: DG

PW is Paul Webster (trumpet) and JT is Joe Thomas (tenor sax). WB is arranger Will Beines, and DG is vocalist Dan Grissom.

Charlie Parker Dial Records Discography [25]

Komara’s detailed work on Charlie Parker’s Dial recordings provides analyses of all tracks that include solo routine, tempo, key signature, tune structure (with contrafacts indicated). Solo durations are generally described by tune section. Here is an example from the March 28, 1946 session:

A Night in Tunisia (John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie – Frank Paparelli): 32 measure AABA chorus; key of F, 4/4 meter

D 1013-5; ♩ = 180; 3:00

Choruses: Theme with PARKER bridge; ensemble interlude (12 mm.); PARKER (break, AA), Davis (BA); Thompson (AA), Garrison (B); Theme (A).

So regarding duration, A = 8 bars; AA = 16 bars (0.5 chorus); B = 8 bars (bridge); BA = 16 bars (0.5 chorus) starting at the bridge.

Duke Ellington Discography (DESOR) [26]

Certainly one of the most thorough and detailed projects aimed at documenting the recorded history of a jazz icon, this massive work comprises two volumes and well over one thousand pages. Part one contains a users guide, keys to abbreviations, instruments, countries, musicians, and discs as well as the Ellington sessions, each one containing track titles rendered unique by a code designation. Part two includes another users guide, sections on titles, discs, and musicians. All of the data in the two volumes is interconnected by a complex system and much page turning is required to get the complete picture of a given session.

The solo information is found in part two, in the alphabetically listed titles section. The compilers provide a complete analysis of every track using an arcane abbreviation system. Here are two examples from early 1940s RCA Victor sessions:

Raincheck (DESOR performance no. DE4125a)
Duke Ellington — December 2, 1941, mtx. 061941-1, RCA Victor 27880
DESOR description:


Translation: 8-bar band introduction; First chorus: Juan Tizol; 8-bar band passage; Second chorus: 24 bars Ben Webster, 4 bars Webster and band, 4 bars Webster; passage: 2 bars Billy Strayhorn; Third chorus (incomplete form): 2 bars band, 2 bars Ray Nance, 2 bars band, 2 bars Nance, 8 bars band; passage: 8 bars band; Fourth chorus (incomplete form): 8 bars Strayhorn, 8 bars Strayhorn and band; coda: 8 bars band

Perdido (DESOR performance no. DE4201a)
Duke Ellington — January 21, 1942, mtx. 070682-1, RCA Victor 27880
DESOR description:

Other title - Tizol’s Stomp.

Translation: 4-bar Duke Ellington introduction; First chorus: 16 bars Harry Carney; 8 bars Ray Nance; 8 bars Carney; Second chorus: 16 bars Rex Stewart; 16 bars Ben Webster; Third chorus: 16 bars band; 8 bars Nance; 8 bars band and Nance

It should be noted that 2° means chorus two, 3°, chorus three, etc. and that choruses are separated by semicolons. Also, no distinction is made between a solo section that is improvised (e.g., Ben Webster on “Raincheck”) and one that is a theme statement (e.g., Juan Tizol on “Raincheck”).

While thoughtfully devised, the authors’ complex systems of codes and abbreviations are challenging, especially upon first exposure. Because of this, members of the Duke Ellington Music Society have published helpful explanations with practical examples. [27]

Benny Carter Discography [28]

Only Carter’s solos are indicated with durations in bars as in the following examples from the Lucky Thompson-led RCA Victor session of April 22, 1947 (master takes):

BOULEVARD BOUNCE [D7VB512-H] (32 + 16as) arr, comp
BOPPIN’ THE BLUES [D7VB513-?] (24as)

Lucky Thompson Discography [29]

Only Thompson’s solos are denoted: “A distinctive contribution by Lucky Thompson to a performance is indicated immediately before the song title in the discography by s - solo; a - accompaniment; i - intro. The absence of any solo, accompaniment, or intro is indicated by / and the lack of any symbol indicates that the item has not been auditioned.” Here are examples again taken from the RCA Victor session of April 22, 1947:

D7VB510-1s JUST ONE MORE CHANCE –arr BC(3.09)
D7VB511-2 (mst)s FROM DIXIELAND TO BEBOP –arr LF(3.05)
D7VB512-H (mst)i BOULEVARD BOUNCE (omit Kessel) –arr BC(3.17)
D7VB512-Di BOULEVARD BOUNCE (omit Kessel) –arr BC(3.10)
D7VB513-2s BOPPIN’ THE BLUES(3.01)

Salemann’s Lucky Thompson discography [30] is similar, indicating only Thompson’s solos:

D7-VB-512-1BOULEVARD BOUNCE (intro) (omit guitar)

He also indicates solo position if there is more than one tenor saxophone solo on a track as (2.s), meaning Thompson’s is the second solo on that instrument. Solo durations are not provided.

Pepper Adams Discography [31]

Only Adams’s solos are indicated. A track containing a solo is listed in boldface as in this March 8, 1962 Blue Mitchell session for Riverside Records:

aBlue on Blue
bA Sure Thing

Joe Wilder Discography/Solography [32]

Berger lays out his goals regarding this project as follows: “This listing attempts to document all issued sessions on which Joe Wilder participated and to indicate his contributions as a soloist.” He also specifies several conventions: “To save space while highlighting Joe Wilder’s solo work, the format and level of detail differ from those of standard discographies.... Only songs in which Wilder solos or is prominent as accompanist (e.g., playing fills or obbligatos behind a singer) are listed, and the length in measures of Wilder’s contribution (e.g., 8b) follows each song title. If Wilder does not solo in a session, ‘No Solos’ appears in place of the song titles, indicating that I have listened to the recording(s) and verified that he does not solo.”

Here are two examples:

Peter the Great, Bethlehem BCP1011, 10" LP

November 16, 1954, New York

“The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise” (theme statements)
“Moonlight in Vermont” (12b, 16b)
“There Will Never Be Another You” (8b, 8b, 16b)
“I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love with Me” (32b)
“Used Blues” (16b)
“Tea for Two” (32b)
“Delta Blues” (intro, 8b, 16b)

The Touch of Tony Scott, RCA LPM1353, LP

July 2, 3, 5, 1956, New York

No solos

Jazz Archeology — Solographies by Jan Evensmo [33]

Arguably the most prolific exponent of jazz solography, Jan Evensmo has compiled nearly 150 individual artist solo histories (mainly tenor saxophonists and trumpeters) and made them available for download as pdf files from his website (“Your Guide to the Treasures of Vintage Jazz”). There he offers details of both his vision and methodology, developed over many years of research.

His scope is confined to the subject artist but quite a bit of information is provided including durations and tempo approximations and a standard discography format is employed. Conventions and abbreviations are clearly explained and the reports are updated as new information becomes available.

Here is an example from his Lucky Thompson tenor saxophone solography (version dated November 5, 2015), again using the RCA Victor session of April 22, 1947:

510-1Just One More Chance Feature number for tenorsax [sic], all record through. (S)
511-1From Dixieland To Bop In ens. Solo 64 bars. (FM)
511-From Dixieland To Bop As above? ( )
511-From Dixieland To Bop As above? ( )
512-1Boulevard Bounce Intro. (M)
512-Boulevard Bounce As above (M)
512-Boulevard Bounce As above (M)
513-1Boppin’ The Blues Solo 60 bars. (F)

The second and third takes of “From Dixieland to Bop” are not auditioned. Regarding the tempo designations, (S) is slow, less than 92 beats per minute; (FM) is “fast medium,” between 184 and 240 beats per minute; (M) is medium, between 128 and 184 beats per minute; (F) is fast, more than 240 beats per minute.

Following each session, Evensmo provides his own evaluations of the performances which are more adulation than musical analysis. Here he describes “Just One More Chance” as the “obvious highlight,” “with LT playing beautifully in a ballad mood, a remarkable performance even for him.” He also comments that Thompson’s 5 choruses on “Boppin’ the Blues” “make your hair raise.”

Another European exponent of jazz solography is Mario Schneeberger who has covered trumpeter and vocalist Frank Humphries, pianist and arranger Marl Young and trumpeters Freddie Webster, Willis Nelson, and Dupree Bolton. [34] As with Evensmo, the compilations are in pdf format.

21st Century Thoughts and Experiences

At this point in time, jazz discography in general and the solo issue in particular must certainly exploit computer technology and the Internet. [35] These tools offer many significant advantages and opportunities relative to traditional publication in book or pamphlet format regarding all aspects of the discographical process, from data entry and storage to display. In addition, given the reality that discographies are never finished, updates addressing the inevitable errors and omissions can be more easily and routinely published.

Since its first incarnation in 1997, BRIAN, a relational database application named for the late Brian Rust, has become the state-of-the-art tool for storage and display of discographical data involving jazz and pop music. [36] To date, 88 complete artist discographies and over 400 leader entries (artist discographies excluding sideman sessions) have been compiled and published using this application. [37] In addition, musicians have used it to keep track of their own recording sessions and collectors for organizing their personal holdings.

Throughout its twenty years of existence, BRIAN has undergone substantial upgrading of its capabilities as well as enhanced ease of use and improved discography display. Recently, a feature has been added that allows entry of solo information as part of a session, a development that offers great promise in terms of providing a standardized way of displaying the solo data. As a bonus, an artist’s solo history is searchable.

But before getting into specific examples, a few words about acquisition of the solo data. Album and compilation liner notes sometimes name the soloists and solo order on a given track, even noting the number of choruses in certain instances. Unfortunately, such details are not routinely provided or are incorrect and the only sure way to gather the required information is by listening. This, of course, mandates access to recordings that are often obscure and difficult to locate, although the amount of material that can now be found on YouTube and similar sources is quite astounding and ever increasing (legal ramifications notwithstanding). Archives and collectors can be very helpful also. In my work, nearly all of the solo information has been gathered by listening over many, many hours, a process that has had the added benefit of revealing errors and omissions in other data such as instrumentation and track timings.

To demonstrate how the solos are entered using BRIAN, let us return to the Lucky Thompson RCA Victor session of April 22, 1947. Fig. 1 shows the session window for this recording date and the solo information for track h, “Boppin’ the Blues”. The order in which this was created was first to enter the performances (songs) with associated information (matrix nos., timings, type — e.g., master (default) or alternative), then the performers for each track. When this is complete, selecting the “Solos” tab provides a blank slate that is filled in by simply dragging the performer’s name from the personnel list to the left column of the “Solos” window. The instrument automatically moves with the name and the solo order is from top to bottom. This procedure is followed for all tracks of the session.

At this point, the user can stop and the discography will show the soloists listed in the proper order for each track; however, more information can be added using the “Details” column. Here the solo’s duration in bars/measures and choruses and other descriptors can be included. My preferences are shown which, for the time being, generally exclude some of the parameters listed above such as tempo, key signature, meter (see below), or song structure. But the nature and extent of information provided is up to the user given a field limitation of 504 characters. Since the BRIAN-generated discographies are published online as HTML files, space and formatting constraints associated with print publications do not come into play. Therefore, I have opted to make my solo “Details” as clear and user-friendly as possible by minimizing the number of often confusing abbreviations, for example. In general, durations are expressed as both bars and choruses, at least when the song structure is known with certainty.

Lucky Thompson screenshot

Figure 1. Screenshot of BRIAN entry for “Boppin’ the Blues” Lucky Thompson, April 22, 1947.

The actual display of this session in Lucky Thompson’s discography [38] is as shown in the following truncated reproduction (unissued takes and issues are hidden for brevity):

Date: April 22, 1947
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Label: RCA Victor
Lucky Thompson and His Lucky Seven

Lucky Thompson (ldr), Neal Hefti (t), Benny Carter (as), Lucky Thompson (ts), Bob Lawson (bar), Barney Kessel (g), Dodo Marmarosa (p), Red Callender (b), Jackie Mills (d)

a. D7-VB-510-1 Just One More Chance - 3:11(Sam Coslow, Arthur Johnston)
b. D7-VB-511-2 From Dixieland to Bebop (Condon Meets Gillespie) - 3:02(Patrick Lipschitz)
e. D7-VB-512-H Boulevard Bounce - 3:15(Benny Carter) / arr: Benny Carter
f. D7-VB-512-Balt Boulevard Bounce - 3:12(Benny Carter) / arr: Benny Carter
h. D7-VB-513-2 Boppin' the Blues - 2:59(Lucky Thompson)

Barney Kessel (g) on a-d, h.

a - Lucky Thompson (ts) 52 bars and cadenza
b - Jackie Mills (d) 4-bar intro; Neal Hefti (t) 32 bars (1 chorus); Jackie Mills (d) 4 bars; Dodo Marmarosa (p) 16 bars; Barney Kessel (g) 16 bars; Lucky Thompson (ts) 64 bars (2 choruses)
e - Lucky Thompson (ts) 4-bar intro; Benny Carter (as) 48 bars; Dodo Marmarosa (p) 8 bars bridge
f - Lucky Thompson (ts) 4-bar intro; Benny Carter (as) 48 bars; Dodo Marmarosa (p) 8 bars bridge
h - Jackie Mills (d) 4-bar intro; Dodo Marmarosa (p) 36 bars (3 choruses); Neal Hefti (t) 24 bars (2 choruses); Benny Carter (as) 24 bars (2 choruses); Barney Kessel (g) 36 bars (3 choruses); Lucky Thompson (ts) 60 bars (5 choruses); Jackie Mills (d) 4 bars

Thus the software places the solo information following personnel exceptions, in this example, only involving guitarist Kessel, and before any session notes. The identifying letters correspond to those assigned to the tracks and semicolons separate the solos. One might wonder why the solo routines are collected near the bottom of the session and not placed individually under the corresponding track as is the case with some of the earlier print examples mentioned above. The reason is that BRIAN currently lists issues under the track and these lists can often be quite long. To add the solo information to the track as well seemed to be potentially confusing. [39]

All of Lucky Thompson’s solos entered as described above can be exported as a text list sorted first chronologically then alphabetically by song title. [40] Those associated with this session appear as follows:

Recording DateSong TitleInstrumentDuration
04/22/1947Boppin’ the BluesTenor Sax60 bars (5 choruses)
04/22/1947Boulevard BounceTenor Sax4-bar intro
04/22/1947Boulevard BounceTenor Sax4-bar intro
04/22/1947From Dixieland to Bebop (Condon Meets Gillespie)Tenor Sax64 bars (2 choruses)
04/22/1947Just One More ChanceTenor Sax52 bars and cadenza

As can be seen, there are duplicate entries for the introductory solo on “Boulevard Bounce” that arise from a master and an alternative take. Future modifications of the software will involve ways to render the list entries unique, for example, by including performance reference IDs [41] as part of the data export.

In addition to Lucky Thompson, initial experimentation with the BRIAN solo entry feature has been extended to two other artists, Gigi Gryce [42] and Frank Strozier. [43] Here is an example from the Donald Byrd–Gigi Gryce Columbia Records Jazz Lab session of August 30, 1957:

Gigi Gryce screenshot

Figure 2. Screenshot of BRIAN entry for “Satellite” Byrd-Gryce Jazz Lab, August 30, 1957.

In this case, the “Details” for “Satellite” reveal that solos take place on two different chord structures within one performance. The session displays as in the following reproduction where, again, the many issues are hidden for clarity:

Date: August 30, 1957
Location: New York City
Label: Columbia
Modern Jazz Perspective (quintet)

Donald Byrd, Gigi Gryce (ldr), Donald Byrd (t), Gigi Gryce (as), Wynton Kelly (p), Wendell Marshall (b), Arthur Taylor (d)

a. CO59677 Satellite - 4:26(Gigi Gryce) / arr: Gigi Gryce
b. CO59678 Evening in Casablanca - 5:05(Gigi Gryce) / arr: Gigi Gryce
c. CO59679 Social Call - 4:44(Gigi Gryce) / arr: Gigi Gryce
a - Donald Byrd (t) 56 bars (1 chorus on different form than head); Gigi Gryce (as) 56 bars (1 chorus on different form than head); Wynton Kelly (p) 32 bars (1 chorus on same form as head); Arthur Taylor (d) 4 bars
b - Donald Byrd (t) 24 bars of 46-bar form (10+14+8+14); Gigi Gryce (as) 22 bars starting from bridge; Wynton Kelly (p) 24 bars; Donald Byrd (t) 8 bars bridge; Gigi Gryce (as) last 14 bars of form
c - Gigi Gryce (as) 36 bars (1 chorus); Donald Byrd (t) 36 bars (1 chorus); Wynton Kelly (p) 36 bars (1 chorus); Gigi Gryce (as) 36 bars (1 chorus) 4-bar exchanges with Taylor alternating with Byrd

Note that for track b, the form of the composition, “An Evening in Casablanca,” is presented and for track c, 4-bar exchanges (“fours”) are reported. Exchanges pose an intriguing problem given the constraints of the software and they can be handled in various ways. For greatest accuracy, each x-bar section would be entered as a separate solo. But often I have used a “summary” approach as shown here for “Social Call” wherein the 36-bar chorus of exchanges is simply described as Byrd, Gryce, and Taylor trading 4-bars each with the order unspecified. While any of these three could be indicated as the “exchange summary soloist,” I have opted to assign that position to Gryce because he is the subject of the discography and would not be found as a soloist during these exchanges if Byrd or Taylor were given that role. [44]

The Gigi Gryce solo export for this session appears as follows: [45]

Recording DateSong TitleInstrumentDuration
08/30/1957Evening in CasablancaAlto Sax22 bars starting from bridge
08/30/1957Evening in CasablancaAlto Saxlast 14 bars of form
08/30/1957SatelliteAlto Sax56 bars (1 chorus on different form than head)
08/30/1957Social CallAlto Sax36 bars (1 chorus)
08/30/1957Social CallAlto Sax36 bars (1 chorus) 4-bar exchanges with Taylor alternating with Byrd

In this case, the two solos shown for the titles “Evening in Casablanca” and “Social Call” are from the same take rather than from two different takes and again, future modifications will be necessary in order to render this unambiguous.

The September 12, 1961 Frank Strozier session for Jazzland Records presents a third example which shows, among other things, how alternative time signatures are handled. Since the default meter is 4/4, alternative meters are designated in the “Details” as shown for track c, a waltz.

Frank Strozier screenshot

Figure 3. Screenshot of BRIAN entry for “The Need for Love” Frank Strozier, September 12, 1961.

The display for this session (again with issues hidden) indicates codas and cadenzas and another example (track g) of 4-bar exchanges. Here, the unusual structure of “Just Think It Over” is described in the notes rather than as a solo detail.

Date: September 12, 1961
Location: Plaza Sound Studios, New York City
Label: Jazzland
Frank Strozier Sextet and Quartets: Long Night

Frank Strozier (ldr), Frank Strozier (as, f), George Coleman (ts), Pat Patrick (bar, f), Chris Anderson (p), Bill Lee (b), Walter Perkins (d)

a. Long Night (Pacemaker Suite, Part 5) - 4:30(Frank Strozier)
b. How Little We Know - 5:51(Carolyn Leigh, Philip Springer)
c. The Need for Love (Pacemaker Suite, Part 2) - 4:37(Frank Strozier)
d. The Man That Got Away - 4:15(Harold Arlen, Ira Gershwin)
e. Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe - 5:52(Harold Arlen, E. Y. Harburg)
f. The Crystal Ball (For Chris, Pacemaker Suite, Part 3) - 5:28(Frank Strozier)
g. Pacemaker (Pacemaker Suite, Part 1) - 4:06(Frank Strozier)
h. Just Think It Over (Pacemaker Suite, Part 4) - 3:56(Frank Strozier)

Frank Strozier (as) on a-e, g-h, (f) on f; George Coleman (ts) on a, c, f, h; Pat Patrick (bar) on a, c, h, (f) on f.

a - Frank Strozier (as) 24 bars (2 choruses) and cadenza
b - Frank Strozier (as) 64 bars (2 choruses); Chris Anderson (p) 32 bars (1 chorus); Bill Lee (b) 32 bars (1 chorus); Frank Strozier (as) 6-bar coda
c - Frank Strozier (as) 96 bars (3 choruses in 3/4); Chris Anderson (p) 64 bars (2 choruses in 3/4)
d - Chris Anderson (p) rubato intro; Frank Strozier (as) 62 bars to fade
e - Frank Strozier (as) rubato intro; Frank Strozier (as) 36 bars; Chris Anderson (p) 16 bars; Frank Strozier (as) 18 bars and cadenza
f - Frank Strozier (f) 32 bars (1 chorus); George Coleman (ts) 32 bars (1 chorus); Frank Strozier (f) 16 bars (0.5 chorus); Chris Anderson (p) 16 bars (0.5 chorus) starting at bridge
g - Frank Strozier (as) 108 bars (3 choruses); Chris Anderson (p) 36 bars (1 chorus); Frank Strozier (as) 72 bars (2 choruses) 4-bar exchanges with Perkins
h - Frank Strozier (as) 44 bars (1 chorus); George Coleman (ts) 44 bars (1 chorus); Pat Patrick (bar) 44 bars (1 chorus); Chris Anderson (p) 16 bars

The theme of track h has a rather unusual 44-bar structure: 8+8+8+8+12.

The corresponding solo export appears as follows: [46]

Recording DateSong TitleInstrumentDuration
09/12/1961The Crystal Ball (For Chris, Pacemaker Suite, Part 3)Flute32 bars (1 chorus)
09/12/1961The Crystal Ball (For Chris, Pacemaker Suite, Part 3)Flute16 bars (0.5 chorus)
09/12/1961Happiness Is a Thing Called JoeAlto Saxrubato intro
09/12/1961Happiness Is a Thing Called JoeAlto Sax36 bars (1 chorus)
09/12/1961Happiness Is a Thing Called JoeAlto Sax18 bars and cadenza
09/12/1961How Little We KnowAlto Sax64 bars (2 choruses)
09/12/1961How Little We KnowAlto Sax6-bar coda
09/12/1961Just Think It Over (Pacemaker Suite, Part 4)Alto Sax44 bars (1 chorus)
09/12/1961Long Night (Pacemaker Suite, Part 5)Alto Sax24 bars (2 choruses) and cadenza
09/12/1961The Man That Got AwayAlto Sax62 bars to fade
09/12/1961The Need for Love (Pacemaker Suite, Part 2)Alto Sax96 bars (3 choruses in 3/4)
09/12/1961Pacemaker (Pacemaker Suite, Part 1)Alto Sax108 bars (3 choruses)
09/12/1961Pacemaker (Pacemaker Suite, Part 1)Alto Sax72 bars (2 choruses) 4-bar exchanges with Perkins

Although the examples above are taken from single artist discographies, it should be noted that BRIAN is not limited to such projects and the solo features described can be applied to multiple artist discographies, label discographies and location discographies. [47]


Despite the progress described above, the acquisition of solo data from recordings will always be a time-consuming endeavor, obviously requiring real-time listening and sometimes, careful analysis in order to provide a thorough and accurate complement to a discography. Whether this effort is justified will be up to the compiler. Nonetheless, the ability to enter and store solo information using a database, and display it in a clear and uniform manner as BRIAN now allows is a major breakthrough. The examples presented above are early days results and software refinements will certainly be made as more experience and feedback is gained with the solo entry feature.

With regards to the solo descriptions (“Details”) shown, it is not my intention here to establish or recommend conventions for how such data should be displayed. As noted, the software allows flexibility and it is quite possible that other users will prefer much different terminology. However, the general rule that I hope discographers will follow is that the presentation is clear and avoids cryptic or arcane abbreviations and jargon.

Like the music itself, jazz discography has come a long way in the last century. It seems that we now have the tools to build upon the substantial achievements of the many discographers mentioned above. Hopefully, the groundwork has been laid for future session-based jazz discographies that present a truly comprehensive picture of an artist’s recorded history including documentation of the overarching improvised solo component.



The author is grateful to Steve Albin for creating and upgrading the BRIAN software and for providing assistance with its use. Also, thanks are due to the following who provided helpful suggestions and comments regarding published discographies containing solo information: Ed Berger, Gary Carner, Jan Evensmo, Michael Fitzgerald, Joe Medjuck, Dan Morgenstern, Howard Rye, and Mario Schneeberger.

[1] This refers to discographies such as those mentioned that attempt to cover all jazz recordings up to the time of publication. The term “metadiscographies” has sometimes been used in this context, but see: Epperson, Bruce D. More Important than the Music: A History of Jazz Discography, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013, 10–14.

[2] Hilton R. Schleman. Rhythm On Record, London: Melody Maker, 1936.

[3] Charles Delaunay. Hot Discography, New York: Commodore Record Co., Inc., 1943.

[4] Brian Rust. Jazz Records, 1897–1942, 4th Ed., New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1978.

[5] Jørgen Grunnet Jepsen, ed., Jazz Records: 1942–1962, a discography, Holte, Denmark: Karl Emil Knudsen, 1966.

[6] Walter Bruyninckx and Dom Truffandier. 85 Years of Recorded Jazz. CD-ROM, Mechelen: self-published, 2004.

[7] Erik Raben, ed. Jazz Records: 1942–80: A discography, Vol. 1: A–Ba, Copenhagen: JazzMedia Aps, 1989 and six other volumes; Vol. 8 (Fre–Gi) was published in 2004 as a CD-ROM but no further volumes were published.

[8] Tom Lord. The Jazz Discography. CD-ROM. Vers. 17.0, West Vancouver: Lord Music Reference Inc., 2016; the entire discography is also available as an online subscription at

[9] This exclusion also applies to the many record label discographies compiled by Michel Ruppli and co-workers. For a discussion of label discographies see Bruce D. Epperson. More Important than the Music: A History of Jazz Discography, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013, 159–166.

[10] This also applies, although to a lesser extent, to other important data usually not found in the all-encompassing discographies such as track timings, composer credits, and issue dates.

[11] For a discussion of specialized discographies including artist discographies, bio-discographies, and solographies, see Bruce D. Epperson. More Important than the Music: A History of Jazz Discography, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013, 127–158.

[12] Hugues Panassié. Discographie Critique des Meilleurs Disques de Jazz, Paris: Robert Laffont, 1951.

[13] Christopher A. Pirie with Dr. Siegfried Mueller. Artistry in Kenton: The Bio-Discography of Stan Kenton and His Music, Volume One (Revised Edition), Vienna: self-published, 1969.

[14] John Flower. Moonlight Serenade: A Bio-discography of the Glenn Miller Civilian Band, New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1972.

[15] Walter C. Allen. Hendersonia: The Music of Fletcher Henderson and His Musicians — A Bio-Discography, Highland Park, NJ: self-published, 1973.

[16] Richard S. Sears. V-Discs: A History and Discography, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980.

[17] Chris Sheridan. Count Basie: A Bio-Discography, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986.

[18] Chris Sheridan. Dis Here: A Bio-Discography of Julian ‘Cannonball Adderley’, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000.

[19] Chris Sheridan. Brilliant Corners: A Bio-discography of Thelonious Monk, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001.

[20] Chris Sheridan. Bags’ Grooves: A Discography of Milt Jackson, Parts 1 & 2, Almere, The Netherlands: Names & Numbers, 2006.

[21] Frank Büchmann-Moller. You Got to Be Original, Man! The Music of Lester Young, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1990.

[22] Coover Gazdar. First Bass: The Oscar Pettiford Discography, Bangalore, India: self-published, 1991.

[23] Edward Berger. Basically Speaking: An Oral History of George Duvivier, Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1993, 231.

[24] Bertil Lyttkens. The Jimmie Lunceford Legacy on Records, Stockholm: self-published, 1996.

[25] Edward M. Komara. The Dial Recordings of Charlie Parker, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

[26] Luciano Massagli and Giovanni M. Volonté. The New Desor: An Updated Edition of Duke Ellington’s Story on Records, 1924–1974, Parts One and Two, Milan: self-published, 1999.

[27] See for example: a) Sjef Hoefsmit. The New DESOR Explanations - DE4201a - A Practical Example,; b) Roger Boyes. The New DESOR Explanations - DE2705a - A Second Practical Example,

[28] Morroe Berger, Edward Berger, and James Patrick. Benny Carter: A Life in American Music, Second Edition, Volume II, Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2001.

[29] Bob Weir. Lucky Thompson Discography, Almere, The Netherlands: Names & Numbers, 2010.

[30] Dieter Salemann. Roots of Modern Jazz — The Be Bop Era, Vol. 13: Solography, Discography, Band Routes, Engagements of Eli ‘Lucky’ Thompson, 1943–1950, Berlin: self-published, 2001.

[31] Gary Carner. Pepper Adams’ Joy Road: An Annotated Discography, Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2012.

[32] Edward Berger. Joe Wilder and the Breaking of Barriers in American Music: Softly, with Feeling, Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2014, 315–363.

[33] Jan Evensmo.; Evensmo defines solography as “1. A complete listing, in chronological order, for a certain period of time, of all known studio recordings and all known preserved live recordings, by a particular musician, plus information about the duration and the tempo of his soli. 2. A critical assessment of this musical material, based upon relative criteria.”

[34] Mario Schneeberger.

[35] Noal Cohen. “Jazz Discography in the 21st Century: One Perspective,” Names & Numbers 65, (April 2013), 15–19.

[36] Steve Albin. BRIAN Discography Compilation Software,

[37] ibid.

[38] Noal Cohen. The Lucky Thompson Discography, Part 1: 1943–1950,

[39] The developer of BRIAN gives serious consideration to any suggestions for changes by users of the software. (Private communication to the author from Steve Albin.)

[40] Noal Cohen. Lucky Thompson Solos,

[41] These are the lowercase letters that BRIAN automatically assigns to a track when it is added to a session.

[42] Noal Cohen. Gigi Gryce Discography,

[43] Noal Cohen. Frank Strozier Discography,

[44] To put this another way, when perusing the database for instances of a performer also being a soloist, only the “Name” entries are searchable, not the “Details” information. So if Gryce had been listed in the “Details” column, he would not be found, just as in this example, neither Byrd nor Taylor would turn up as soloists in this particular group of exchanges.

[45] Noal Cohen. Gigi Gryce Solos,

[46] Noal Cohen. Frank Strozier Solos,

[47] See for example:

Author Information: 
Originally from Rochester, NY, Noal Cohen is a Montclair, New Jersey-based jazz researcher and discographer whose main interests involve artists he considers worthy of greater recognition. He has published detailed discographies of several musicians that he feels fit this category at He also writes and edits liner notes and has contributed articles to Coda Magazine, Discographical Forum, IAJRC Journal, Names & Numbers, and Current Research in Jazz. With Michael Fitzgerald, he co-authored Rat Race Blues: The Musical Life of Gigi Gryce, an award-winning biography of the saxophonist and composer (

The inclusion of solo information in jazz discographies is a useful complement to the basic data found in such compilations but one that is restricted by practical considerations to specialist works such as those limited to the recorded history of a single artist. Among the many benefits of addressing jazz solos, perhaps the most compelling is that the compiler is forced to listen carefully to the recordings and is thus able to identify and correct errors in personnel, instrumentation, track timing, and issue content found in many sources including other discographies and even original liner notes.
Diverse approaches to handling solo information in discographies have been utilized historically, some quite simple, others arcane, and a survey of representative examples of these is presented herein. With the advent of computer technology, discographers are now equipped with tools that facilitate the entry and display of data. The BRIAN application, introduced in 1997, has evolved into a particularly robust program for discography compilation and early results using this software for incorporating solo data into existing artist discographies are presented with several examples that demonstrate flexibility and ease of use along with some problems that will require future refinement.

discography, solography, jazz

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