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Steve Voce

I find the Tom Lord discography absolutely indispensible, and use it nearly every day. I certainly couldn't manage without it, and can't imagine how any serious jazz fan can. The more discographical knowledge people have available, the longer our music is going to stay alive. Apart from all that, TJD is an amazing achievement, beautifully thought out, and improving logically and usefully every year. There's nothing in jazz remotely as important to the music, except the actual recordings themselves.

Steve Voce – reviewer for Jazz Journal – November 2018

Steve Voce

Reviews The Jazz Discography Online (TJD Online)
Jazz Journal, January 2016

“TJD Online is a priceless tool for both collectors and journalists and I’d hate to have to try and manage without it.” Click here to read full review.

Steve Thornton — New subscriber to TJD Online — April 2014

“This database is going to bankrupt me and possibly cost me my job and my marriage! I love it!”

Ken Kasl — Seven year subscriber to TJD Online — July 2014

“Keep up the great work. I get a lot of questions answered using your files.”

Jimmy Brannen — Four Year Subscriber to TJD Online - July 2014

“Love the site. Keep up the good work. A real collector's dream for research.”

Ken Harrison — Six Year Subscriber to TJD Online

“Lord Jazz? Wouldn't be without it!”

Scott Wenzel — Mosaic Records

Commenting on The Jazz Discography Online (TJD Online) April 2014

“An awesome online service... love it and it's been a big help”.

Peter Bevan

Reviews The Jazz Discography Online (TJD Online)
Jazz Journal, July 2012

I've been subscribing to TJD Online now for nearly 12 months and cannot Imagine being without it... It is surely the most comprehensive jazz discography presently available and the speed and ease with which one can trace the information make it invaluable, largely displacing printed versions.
Click here to read full review.

Michael Coyle

Reviews The Jazz Discography Online (TJD Online)
Cadence Magazine, Jan-Feb-Mar 2011:

All told, I think the online version of TJD is a remarkable, even invaluable accomplishment. Click here to read full review.

Cheryl LaGuardia

Reviews The Jazz Discography Online (TJD Online)
LibraryJournal.com "E-Views", March 28, 2008:

"If you want definitive information about jazz recordings (including the names of sidemen and their instruments!), this file is for you and your library."

Peter Bevan
Reviews TJD Online for
Jazz Journal.
Click here to read.

Michael Coyle
reviews TJD Online for
Cadence Magazine.
Click here to read.

John McDonough
reviews CD-ROM Version 7.0 for
Wall Street Journal.
Click here to read.

Steve Voce

reviews CD-ROM Version 4.4 for
Jazz Journal International.
Click here
to read.

Steve Voce
reviews CD-ROM Version 3.3 for
Jazz Journal International.
Click here
to read.

Don Heckman
CD-ROM Version 3.3 for
Los Angeles Times.
Click here to read.

Our subscribers said...

The CD ROM arrived a week ago, and I have been venturing into it with great enthusiasm. Can I just say what a truly astonishing resource it is. The data it contains is remarkable, although not exactly a surprise (I do, after all, have the printed volumes), but its search facilities are quite superb: extraordinarily comprehensive and very quick indeed. Many congratulations! James Meadows, United Kingdom

If there was a Nobel prize for jazz research, you should get it. Remco Plas, Netherlands>

I received your CD-ROM first thing this morning. I've spent most of the day checking it out. It's wonderful. I especially like being able to look at a musician's career in total, whether as a leader or a sideman or an arranger or whatever. I also like the ability to pair up musicians on various sessions. You've done a great job, Tom! Don Brown, Canada

“Tom Lord's work is quite simply amazing. I have been a jazz and popular music archivist since 1956 and in the interim have owned or read virtually every major discography published and even a good number of minor issues. Tom covers the length and breath of jazz issues better than anyone before or since. It never ceases to amaze me how much I continually learn every time I pick up a volume in the series. I have just ordered the CD-ROM version and I am looking forward to learning even more at an easier and faster pace.” Ric Ross, USA

"Thank you for your enormous effort - being the happy owner of your wonderful discography, it is used almost daily". Ulf Renberg, Norway

"I purchased the CD-ROM. It's working just great." G. Phillip Cartwright, USA

"Congratulations on such a large undertaking!" Sylvia Levine Leitch, Canada

"Thank you for completing a major research tool now gloriously sitting on my shelf." Francesco Martinelli, Italy

"The Jazz Discography is the most valuable tool in my library for researching jazz performers and their recordings. Thank you for a great resource." Mike Kremer, USA

"I really like your product. This collector is having fun searching! What a valuable tool the discography is. Naturally I've looked at some of my favorites e.g. Shorty Baker, Charlie Christian, Peggy Lee, Lee Wiley etc. and am astounded by your detailed listings, session data etc.  I had fun the other day after I watched the video 'Cadillac Man' starring Robin Williams. As the film started I heard a woman singing 'Snatch and Grab It', backed by a group which I suspected was jazz. Couldn't find anything in my collection, so I went to CD-ROM 3.3, typed in the tune's title and presto saw that it was recorded by Julia Lee. Never heard of her, but had heard of Ernie Royal on trumpet. Subsequently I bought a two CD set of Julia Lee on the JSP label. GREAT FUN!"    Ed Morris, USA

"This new CD-ROM version of The Jazz Discography has greatly improved since the last one and we recommend it to all our friends.  It is a great help for our work and we use it so often that it has become indispensable." Isabelle Marquis, Masters of Jazz, France

"Received the CD-R late July for which I thank you. Just one word: Splendid, Outstanding, too marvelous for words. You can pick up any adjective to express my feeling to praise your work."  F. Y. Fujita, Japan

"The CD is a superb tool." Thomas P. Hustad, USA

"I just received my CD-ROM of The Jazz Discography and have nothing but praise for the contents." Roberto Barahona, USA

"I received your CD-ROM 3.3 and it works great, even on my obsolete 233 MHz system. I love it and will get miles of use from it in the monthly recorded musical-lectures I give to a local jazz club. Wonderful job you did, on the whole project, though I can't imagine the courage required to tackle such a complex thing in the first place." Bill Underwood, USA

"Thanks for the CD-ROM just received - EXCELLENT." Derek Styles, UK

"Thanks so much for the CD-ROM version; it is invaluable!"  Jim Andrews, USA

"Just to let you know I recieved CD-ROM Version 4.4 this morning. Many thanks for the very prompt delivery time. I have installed the CD-ROM in my computer and downloaded the "Update Data". I am going to have many, many hours of enjoyment using the Discography. It is a mind boggling piece of work and so easy to use."  Brian Pearcy, Uniked Kingdom

The critics said...

Leonard Feather:
"Tom Lord's The JAZZ Discography is a magnificent and much needed job of research."

Stanley Dance, Jazz Times:
"Confronted by two volumes - 1200 - pages of this mighty work at one time almost provokes the use of that nauseating adjective, 'awesome'."

John Norris, Coda:
"The JAZZ Discography is now the recommended reference work encompassing the totality of recorded jazz history."

Russ Chase, IAJRC Journal:
"Lord's work is not only important for this generation, but will be the basis for any such projects in the distant future."

Eddie Cook, Jazz Journal International:
"The Lord reference work reveals a high level of scholarship."

Dr. Lee Bash, Jazz Educators Journal:
"Occasionally, you encounter something that is so grand in its design and execution that it takes your breath away."

Library Journal:
"This is a truly monumental work. If it's recorded jazz, it's in here (or will be). For pure breadth, nothing else compares. This work is essential."

A. David Franklin, American Reference Books Annual:
"This work in progress has garnered high acclaim from jazz scholars."

Bob Weir, Jazz Journal International:
"... will result in the most detailed and comprehensive jazz discography ever published; a formidable achievement for which the assiduous Mr. Lord deserves the highest praise."

J. Farrington, Wesleyan University, Choice
"Lord's work will be the single most important discography in the field of jazz well into the 21st century."

About TJD Online (The Jazz Discography Online)...

Steve Voce, January 2016, Page 7, Jazz Journal

I use the CD that contains Tom Lord’s discography almost every day (first action before writing about the Chick Webb band is to look it up in Lord). It’s a priceless tool for both collectors and journalists and I’d hate to have to try to manage without it. The latest CD version 16.0 is up-to-date to September 2015.

But I’m behind the times, and the discography has for many years been available in more flexible form, online by subscription. I’ve always thought that the CD version was fine so who needs the Internet. Wrong, I’ve been given the chance to examine the online version and find it’s a very different proposition. It’s been massively updated., both in what you can do with it and in the amount of material it contains.

At a conservative count there are well over a million musician entries and over a million tune entries. This surpasses the CD version of course and the whole thing is revolutionized by the fact that Lord’s staff can and do add material or modify it every day. As a result the discography is more accurate and far more comprehensive than it’s ever been before.

Some of the new features are quite startling. I particularly like the separate database inside the system that quickly catalogues one’s own collection. Each session in the discography has its own number. To add Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue to your collection you type in its session number, D1596, click an “Add” bar, scroll down to the release that you own and all the relevant details are added to the “My Collection” folder. If you have two versions of the same thing, it can cope with that too and indeed flexibility is the key element of the Internet version. Lord and his boffins have followed up all possible variants so that Lord Online is a different animal from my beloved old CD. Details at lordisco.com.

Peter Bevan, July 2012, Jazz Journal


In the October 2002 and March 2004 issues of Jazz Journal, Steve Voce wrote enthusiastically about the CD-ROM versions of Tom Lord's Jazz Discography which he described as "incredible, imaginative and brilliant" and "one of the (two) most indispensable devices you can use to enhance your collection." I fully agree with Steve's comments which can be read in full at www.lordisco.com/reviews. He covered versions 3.3 and 4.4 and these have been revised and updated each year, the latest being CD-ROM 12.0, available to new subscribers at $350, with 50% discounts on updates.

However, in October 2007 Lord introduced the first online subscription service which has all the same facilities as the CD-ROM version giving immediate access to musicians, tunes, sessions and record companies but it is updated virtually every day. With word search, and dates as well it's possible to track down almost everything within seconds. As to the contents, the statistics alone make the strongest point. Tom Lord's 26 printed volumes listed 136,263 recording sessions which had increased to 149,350 on version 4.4 of the CD-ROM but, as of March 2012, the online version has 203,868. Apart from this massive increase in information the online version also enables one to check new issues and reissues added to the database each day, going back 31 days. Another facility, only available online, is one I've found particularly useful. For the first time you can now catalogue your own collection. It's a straightforward process: after tracing individual records and discs by catalogue number or via the musicians' lists, etc., a couple of clicks highlight that entry in green, identifying it as yours. You can then search either just your own collection or the full database, for as long as you subscribe. I should also say that initially this identified more omissions than I'd expected but perhaps that was naive on my part as no discography, especially on this scale, can ever be totally complete, and the myriad CD reissues available worldwide must be a discographer's nightmare.

On his home page, Lord admits that jazz discography is a work in progress and ensuring accuracy and completeness is an endless task. Questions raised about missing Mosaics, Savoys and the many European issues in my collection have resulted in fairly speedy amendments and additions, but you do need to provide details of your source and any opinions need to be backed up with some authority, which I find reassuring. Another issue, only really made obvious by computerization, is variation in tune titles.

You'll find 853 versions of On Green Dolphin Street, for example, but another 24 of just Green Dolphin Street. Similarly, Star Dust (1288) and Stardust (66) or Lady Be Good (1021) and Oh, Lady Be Good (17). Although presumably reflecting how these appeared on the respective issues, a cross reference would be useful.

A couple of final things which have cropped up during my subscription: Lord doesn't include DVDs, videos or any filmography (unless they're on record, of course). "I've got more than my hands full with discography," he told me. But he does now include music available on some download sites with the recent 300+ issues on Wolfgang's Vaults catching my eye.

I've been subscribing now for nearly 12 months and cannot imagine being without it. Even with the qualifications mentioned above it is surely the most comprehensive jazz discography presently available and the speed and ease with which one can trace the information make it invaluable, largely displacing printed versions.

A one-year subscription is $150 with the special offer above for new subscribers ($9.99/month). It works on Windows, Mac and UNIX. An introductory video and much fuller details are all available on the website.

Michael Coyle, Jan-Feb-Mar 2011, Cadence Magazine


Let's start by sorting the somewhat complicated publishing history of The Jazz Discography (TJD) - this information offered by the publisher. Working with Cadence, Tom Lord started publishing the book version of TJD in 1990. In 2001 he published the first CD-ROMs of the full A-Z discography, which included updating of the original book volumes. A yearly updated CD-ROM has been published since then and the 2010 version is CD-ROM 11.0. Of course, since the CD-ROM has to be manufactured, each edition of the database must necessarily be frozen at a specific point in time each September, prior to publishing the CD-ROM each October. Lord reports that each year another 5000-8000 new recording sessions are added to the database, in addition to thousands of re-issues and corrections. Subscribers wanting the latest information necessarily had to wait 12 months to get updated information. That wait will now be eliminated for users who migrate to the new TJD Online. Lord reports that this subscription discography is updated on a daily basis: as new releases, reissues, and corrections are added as they appear. I can't show you what the screen looks like, but TJD Online is designed in a similar format to the CD-ROMs while offering new features that will gladden the hearts of record geeks (like me) everywhere:

  a) New/Reissues button - by clicking on this button a user can see the latest issues and reissues added to the discography. Subscribers can select up to 31 days to see the most recent additions to the discography.

  b) Cataloging your own record collection - Subscribers are able to catalog their record collection with a few keystrokes for each recording session. Once a session is added to "My Collection" the record company and release code information appear highlighted in green. Lord notes that for box set reissues, like those on Mosaic, the keystrokes only have to be done on one session containing a Mosaic release number and all the other sessions on that release automatically catalogued. Once the subscriber has records cataloged s/he can do all the searches and sorts on their own collection that can be done on the main discography. For example, search your collection for "Body and Soul" and the database will bring up all the occurrences of that tune including full session information with your releases highlighted. It's also possible to switch back and forth between your collection and the main database to compare (using the "My sessions" and "Full database" buttons).

  c) Want List - If a user doesn't need the Cataloging feature it can be used as a "Want list" of recordings they hope to obtain.

  d) Record Label Search - This feature allows a user to search for a specific label and release number.

There is also a "My Preferences" button I hadn't noticed on the CD-ROM version which allows one to customize various things like how many lines appear on an index page, or font size, etc. I also notice that the online version allows one to highlight information and paste it into other documents—useful when writing about music—but that wasn't possible on the CD-ROM version.

All told, I think the online version of TJD is a remarkable, even invaluable accomplishment. In fact, it's hard to imagine that most who have invested in the paper or CD-ROM versions will be any longer satisfied with those options. Of course, the downside of the new online version, as with any online subscriber reference tool, is that henceforth you can never "own" your copy—you can only rent it, subscribe to it. You get temporary access by paying an annual fee. But this is the new online world, right? And on balance it seems in this case a fair tradeoff since making the trade means you'll always have the latest version. In my own case, I hate the idea that my reviewer's pass expires this month: having seen the online TJD I simply have to have it. For subscription information, go to http://www.lordisco.com/torder.html.

About CD-ROM Version 7.0...

John McDonough, September 12, 2007, The Wall Street Journal


In 1917, the Original Dixieland Jass Band made the first jazz record. The five-man band had just come to New York and stirred something of a midtown meltdown with its guilty pleasures. "Disaster is coming to hundreds of young girls," one guardian of public morals warned. Fortunately, public morality was no concern of Columbia Records, which promptly recorded the band and kick-started the history of recorded jazz.

As landmark firsts go, the ODJB may not rank with Gutenberg or even Lindbergh. Still, here we are 90 years later with a large legacy on our hands. If someone were to assemble a list of every jazz record, it would cover about 22,000 printed pages.

Which brings us to Tom Lord, a jazz researcher in Vancouver, British Columbia, who has done just that. Mr. Lord became hooked on the music at age 12 when he saw Louis Armstrong in "The Glenn Miller Story." But it was his success as a mechanical engineer and president of an international container company that permitted him to pursue his private passion for records. He is now most noted as the compiler of "The Jazz Discography," a huge work that he began in the 1980s and that eventually grew to 34 600-page volumes at a retail cost of about $2,200.

But such reference works have a way of becoming obsolete the moment they're published. So Mr. Lord did it differently. He built his information empire on a database, not a manuscript. It was a leap of innovation that has allowed him to move beyond books and produce "The Jazz Discography" as a single CD-ROM version 7.0 (available at www.Lordisco.com) whose extraordinary search options can navigate millions of names, numbers and songs with a few keystrokes. The result is a treasure trove full of surprises that will fascinate any student of American music eager to know the most recorded songs, the most recorded musicians, and the nature of jazz itself.

A discography is a mix of bookkeeping and excavation. After the ODJB made its splash, jazz dipped underground and sped through the next 20 years with an amiable disregard for its own accumulating history. It wasn't until Benny Goodman became a sensation in the '30s that jazz acquired a curiosity about its fabled past. In 1936 Charles Delauney became jazz's first Boswell when his 271-page discography, "Hot Discographie," was published in France. It would be the Rosetta Stone for all record research to follow, listing master numbers, labels, dates, personnel and catalog numbers for hundreds of jazz sessions. Over the next 40 years the science of discography grew and evolved.

Mr. Lord picked up the baton in the early '80s, using his computer skills to develop an index for the jazz magazine Cadence. "I did it in a computerized spread sheet called Lotus 1-2-3, a DOS-based program that cross-referenced interviews, record and book reviews. In 1983, personal computers were pretty new things. But after developing that database, I began to think there could be an application in the discography field. I figured it would take me about three or four months to do the database. Well, it ended up taking me three years. A discography looks very simple in print, but there's a lot behind it in terms of programming. Also there's the sheer task of sitting down at a keyboard and typing decades of detail into a database. At times it's just an overwhelming task."

Mr. Lord hired several assistants who hammered away at the endless procession of names and numbers. When enough data piled up to fill 600 pages, Mr. Lord explains, a new volume would appear. Eleven years and 26 volumes later, he finally made it through the Z's in 2001. Another eight books of indexes and addendums followed, bringing the total work to 34 volumes in 2004.

But by then publishing had changed, and in early 2002 "The Jazz Discography" appeared as a CD-ROM for the first time. It was programmed to search leaders, musicians and songs and went up to the year 2001. Since then, each year 10,000 fresh entries have been added in annual revisions. The latest version, 7.0, has expanded search options that include dates, words and phrases. Search the phrase "wall street," for example, and you'll find one tune called -- no kidding! -- "The Provincial Correspondent to the Wall Street Journal."

There is only one record of that song, by Dick Goodwin in 2003. But Mr. Lord's database shows 1,675 versions of "Body and Soul," making it the most recorded melody in jazz history. New Zealand disc jockey John Joyce used Mr. Lord's latest CD-ROM to break out a list of songs logging more than 500 recordings. He found 70 in all, 12 of which surpassed 1,000 versions. Following "Body and Soul" are "St. Louis Blues" (1,628), "Summertime" (1,358), "Sweet Georgia Brown" (1,302), "Take the A Train" (1,201) and "Round Midnight" (1,184).

Such lists are fascinating because they impose a sense of order on the chaos of factoids. Of those 70 songs, for example, 11 are by Duke Ellington, six by George Gershwin, and three by Cole Porter. One third were written by working jazz musicians; the rest by songwriters. The most recent is Erroll Garner's "Misty," with 582 recordings since 1954. But the late critic Whitney Balliett didn't call jazz "the sound of surprise" for nothing. Mr. Lord's complete song index shows 52 versions of "Hey Jude," 29 each of "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Mrs. Robinson," plus slumming tours of "Satisfaction" (10), "Purple Rain" (three), and even "Thriller" (two).

Almost as surprising is what the data say about musicians. Of the 12 most recorded jazzmen, for instance, four are bassists, including Milt Hinton, who tops the entire list at 1,174 sessions. Ellington is a close second. Of the 50 most recorded jazzmen in history, I count only nine still living, suggesting the scarcity of recording opportunities in recent decades. Among those not among the most prolific 50 are Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Oscar Peterson.

Not in the index at all are Washington attorney Leonard Garment and former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. An understandable omission, perhaps. Yet each played bebop saxophone in the Henry Jerome orchestra of 1944 and can be heard on an obscure Jerome CD called "A Taste of Crazy Rhythm," according to Mr. Garment's 1997 autobiography. This is the kind of oversight now easily corrected.

Beyond such gee-whiz trivia, though, a discography, by its choices, defines its domain. "That's a whole other thing," says Mr. Lord. "What is jazz? I don't know that I want to get into that. It would be impossible with the number of recordings I'm handling to listen to every one, even if they were available. Frankly, in the end it's an arbitrary call. But we try to include any recordings that have jazz content or performers in them."

So blues singers Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, who recorded with many jazz musicians, are in, while a rural bluesman like Robert Johnson, who didn't, is out. Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby are covered selectively, as is Rosemary Clooney. There are surprises here too. Jackie Gleason, who fellow-traveled with jazzmen on his mood-music albums, claims 23 sessions. Lawrence Welk gets six and Kenny G is listed as a sideman on two early dates. Even Frank Zappa's "Jazz From Hell" is included. Nora Jones's "Come Away With Me" is also in, but with the notation "limited jazz content."

So jazz geeks may quibble about this inclusion or that omission. But Mr. Lord has cast a wide net, knowing that revisions will be easy and that in the 90 years since the first jazz record the definition of jazz has become a moving and often controversial target. Now with its legacy securely digitized, the music has a basic reference work that can move as fast as the music.

About CD-ROM Version 4.4...

Steve Voce, March 2004, Jazz Journal, UK

THE JAZZ DISCOGRAPHY CD-ROM Version 4.4 by Tom Lord.

"Version 4.4 of the Lord Discography has 13,000 new leader and group recording sessions added, mainly from the first part of the alphabet. Armstrong, Basie and Ellington have all been up-dated so that the new disc, replacing as it does more than 26 books, includes 26,856 leaders, 149,350 recording sessions, 833,520 musician entries and 832,791 tune entries. (No, I didn't count them, but with the computer it would have been easy to).

The upgrade works much more swiftly and efficiently (although I could find little fault with the early disc). 4.4 lets one copy and paste session details into records away from the discography. This is invaluable if one wants to include them in an e-mail to a friend or indeed in any Word document. It is now possible to print out up to 50 recording sessions at a time. I rarely found the need to consult the copious 'Help' section but individual pages from it can now be print out for permanent reference.

The new disc has been re-programmed to provide a virtually endless variety of advanced searches. These can even be made by individual word rather than a specific name and can find a record label, matrix number or just a general date. Also included are leader, musician and tune indexes which provide useful summaries of each category.

All the details can be found at the web site www.lordisco.com. The free demonstration there includes a tour of the discography. It's quick and easy to download. Incidentally CD-ROM Version 3.3 is still available there at a reduced price until sold out".

About CD-ROM Version 3.3...

Steve Voce, October 2002, Jazz Journal, UK

THE JAZZ DISCOGRAPHY CD-ROM Version 3.3 by Tom Lord.
(Purchasing details below)

Although patronising all of them I have in the past been sceptical about the value of discographies. Musty lists, the creation of which takes up the largest part of someone's life, had a moribund quality in contrast to the vitality of the music that they dissected. But people really do get worked up about who was the third trombone player on a Jimmy Dorsey record from 1946 and the discographies enable them to know.

And despite my cynicism I've always been quick in the queue to hand over money. I own Delauney's initial foray into the medium, Rust, Jepsen, Bruyninckx and a myriad of discographical books like the Connor-Hicks 'B.G. On Record', Howard Waters' admirable 'Jack Teagarden's Music' and dozens of individual discographies. And I laid my 90 quid on the line for 'DESOR Vols 1 and 2', for more than you'd ever want to know about Duke Ellington's records.

They've all been trumped, stomped on and made obsolete by the most remarkable jazz instrument that I have ever encountered. Tom Lord's incredible, imaginative and brilliant discography on CD-ROM is, in my opinion, one of the two most indispensable devices you can use to enhance your collection. The other is the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz.

Lord's CD-ROM has all 26 books of his published discographies on the one disc. But that's only the beginning. Ingenious use of the computer medium brings the work to life, and it is transformed from being 'lists' into becoming an account in recording terms of every musician, leader or sideman, that jazz has ever harboured. And the information, no matter how long or involved the history, is instant.

Let me give you examples.

Type in 'Miff Mole' and the enormous list that pops onto your computer screen begins with the complete personnel of Sam Lanin's Roseland Orchestra in May 1920. Press the arrow key and move down through personnels of hundreds of bands that Miff played in, including Condon radio broadcasts of the 40s and finally arriving at Miff's last studio date with Doc Evans in Chicago in 1959.

Try someone who, if he will pardon the suggestion, is more obscure. John Williams was mostly a sideman noted for his brilliant playing behind Getz ('Never mind Stan, did you hear what Johnny Williams was doing in there?' asked Johnny Mandel), Brookmeyer, Cohn and Sims. The list on the screen moves through the 1950 Apartment sessions that John did with Charlie Parker, through all those leaders' sessions and John's rare trio recordings for Mercury, to his accompaniments for Bill d'Arango and so on until the abrupt end of his recording career with the Phil Woods quartet in January 1957 (John left New York abruptly for Florida and a career as a banker and deputy mayor of Hollywood).

If you enter Stan Getz himself, the listings begin with his 1943 records with Teagarden, then goes to the (surprisingly) many with Kenton before winding up with the Second Herd. Once it starts with Stan's own groups, it pulls in anything he did with anyone else (still in chronological order) like the Gillespie Verves and so on. It breaks off from Getz-Brookmeyer to include The Benny Goodman Story film recordings and, when Stan sat in with Basie at Birdland, it gives the full personnel of Basie's band, with appropriate dates.

I've just completed three programmes on BBC North with Johnny Mandel. I needed some help beforehand. I entered Johnny's name and the disc immediately listed every recording Johnny had ever made in chronological order (even including the Stan Getz Orchestra with Johnny on trombone plus Mulligan, Sulieman, Zoot and so on). Where Johnny gave up playing to concentrate on writing the Lord discography switches to his arranging and conducting. Invaluable when you're putting a radio programme together. Johnny remarked that I knew more about him than he did himself. In fact Lord's CD-ROM does.

Let me boggle your mind. It can do anything with tune titles. Enter Lady Be Good and be informed instantly that it was first recorded in London on May 17 1926 by the Gilt-Edged Four. When I have a couple of weeks to spare I plan to examine the list of hundreds of Ladies Be Good that follows.

You can be more specific. Enter Ben Webster and then Duke Ellington and the discography presents every record that Ben made with Duke. You could do the same with Candoli and Kenton, Christian and Goodman ad infinitum.

The 26 original volumes averaged out at $60 each. This disc, containing every word, costs $350 when bought on line through the website at www.lordisco.com (it's well worth a visit just to look around). Alternatively it can be ordered by mail, email, or phone. Here are some details: Lord Music Reference Inc., 5975 Matsqui Street, Chilliwack, BC, Canada. Tel: 604-846-6608.

Incidentally, those are US dollars. They are a modest outlay for the most amazing application of technology to our music that I have ever seen.

Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times

Have a question? This CD-ROM may have the answer
By Don Heckman, Special to The Times

Ever wonder how many times Louis Armstrong recorded his hit number "Struttin' With Some Barbecue"? The answer is more than 50, from the original performance in 1927 with the Hot Five to a 1967 date with his All-Stars.

Or if that reaches too far into the past, how about something more associated with pop music -- like whether there are any jazz versions of Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The answer is: yes, indeed. From Charlie Byrd and Paul Desmond to Lionel Hampton, Nancy Wilson and Michel Legrand and beyond.

Or how about unlikely musical collaborations? Herbie Hancock and David Sanborn? Yep, a 1975 date with Jaco Pastorius and a pair of 1978 dates with Flora Purim.

And did you ever wonder whether Freddie Green, the ineffable presence in the Count Basie rhythm section, ever recorded with anyone other than Basie? He sure did. Dozens of times, from Teddy Wilson and Billie Holiday to Diane Schuur to Caterina Valente.

How, you may ask, do I have this information so readily at hand? I found it all, with little more than a few strokes on my computer keyboard, in a remarkable CD-ROM titled "The Jazz Discography." Written and produced by a dedicated jazz scholar named Tom Lord, it compiles his 26 published volumes of jazz discography into a single, incredibly useful computer database.

Arts that function primarily in the popular arena have never done a particularly thorough job of chronicling their histories. A tendency to focus on the latest star arrival, to list the current levels of sales, to emphasize annual award giving, has for the most part taken precedence over the sort of detailed, long-range views that are common to the classical worlds of music, art, dance, etc.

Jazz lies somewhere in between. True, there is a plethora of books examining one era or another, and several encyclopedic tomes, including the Feather-Gitler "Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz," the "All Music Guide to Jazz," the "Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD" and "The Rough Guide to Jazz." All serve useful purposes in their specific areas.

But there's nothing like "The Jazz Discography." Containing the equivalent of 31,700 printed pages of information, it includes data on more than 410,000 jazz releases on 78- and 45-rpm discs, LPs and CDs. (As a point of comparison, the current edition of the "All Music Guide to Jazz" includes reviews of around 20,000 recordings.)

Does all this sound too esoteric, too redolent of baseball brainiacs who can instantly quote the batting average, home runs and runs batted in of any player one cares to name? Well, sure, that aspect exists. But what Lord has done by placing all this information into a cross-referenced database that allows easy access to information from a variety of directions is create an extraordinarily valuable historical tool. And one can easily imagine its applicability in other musical genres.

What makes "Discography" even more fascinating from the layman jazz-fan perspective is the opportunity to explore from a personal point of view. Is New Orleans music your choice? You can track every recording ever made by Kid Ory, King Oliver, Sidney Bechet or Jelly Roll Morton.

Prefer swing? You can follow the complete recorded history of a player such as Bunny Berigan (from the bands of Fred Rich, Hal Kemp, Tommy Dorsey, Freddy Martin, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and his own orchestras).

Along the way, you'll come across Berigan dates with Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. And each listing includes complete personnel and original recording information.

If bebop and beyond are your preferences, there are similarly intriguing paths to take, from Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie's 1945 recording with singer Slim Gaillard (which produced the unforgettable "Flat Foot Floogie") to the long line of players who streamed through Miles Davis' final sessions.

For those who concentrate on songs, there's the option to search for every number recorded by a jazz artist, complete with leader name, sidemen and dates. And a multiple search menu locates every instance in which as many as three individual players recorded together.

Maintaining such an enormous amount of data is an ongoing task. The current version of "The Jazz Discography" is identified as 3.3 and is short on information beyond the late '90s. The next update, 4.4, will add new entries.

At first glance, the price looks high: $277 in the U.S., with purchasers eligible for future upgrades at 50% off published prices. But keep in mind that the "All Music Guide to Jazz," with its 20,000 listed recordings, is priced at $32.95, and it's only a book. In that comparison, "The Jazz Discography," with its 410,000 releases and its array of search options, suddenly seems like a bargain.

"The Jazz Discography" is available from Lord Music Reference Inc., 5975 Matsqui Street, Chilliwack, BC, Canada V2R 0G6 Info: (604) 846-6608. On the Web at www.lordisco.com.

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