Jazz

From MusicBrainz Wiki

General information

Purpose

This project has multiple goals:

  • be a central drop point linking to other pages and resources helpful to Jazz oriented moderators, and also to voters
  • expose and discuss ideas and concepts specifically resorting to Jazz, that don't yet have an independent page, or don't deserve one
  • list currently active Jazz moderators, ongoing and future tidying tasks... and anything else pertaining to Jazz

If you feel this page/set of pages might interest you, we suggest you subscribe to it and possibly add you nick to the list of known editors.

Subprojects

  • The Jazz/Compositions list aims at listing commonly encountered jazz compositions that suffered many different variants, or present a spelling difficulty. It should be considered authoritative on what variant to choose, and pointed at from moderations notes to justify track title change.
  • The Jazz/Labels compendium wants to centralize as many information as possible about jazz labels and useful links to quickly find countries of origin, catalog numbers, period of activity, thus aims at being useful to moderators who do a lot of release documentation work. With the upcoming arrival of real labels/catalog entries in the system, most if not all of its content will be absorbed by the system and deprecated
  • Jazz/Collections concentrates resources and information about collections (tidying state, naming schemes, links to releases...)
  • SwingJazzBandDisambiguation is a mo project, actually an informal discussion forum wishing to sort out the BigMess of Jazz artists we are currently in
  • Jazz/Quotes and Jazz/Words are two projects focused on general jazz information: while you might find them funny and/or interesting in themselves, they probably won't really help you editing
  • Jazz/Places and Jazz/Dates are two dmppanda experimental research projects

Known jazz editors

Please add/delete your name if you wish, and complete your information (this may disappear or complement the future Moderator/Interest pages).

Editor / Wiki user Auto-editor? Will answer questions / help request by mail? Knows...
Editor:Yllona+Richardson Yes ? All :p
Editor:mo / mo Yes ? Big bands + north european stuff
Editor:dmppanda / dmppanda Yes Yes Most bop and free-jazz stuff 1950-1980 + labels

Editing resources

You might find the following of some help when editing:

  • The Jazz Discography Project is a decent, open, well documented discographic resource. There you may find both artists discographies and some historical labels catalog. Be aware, though, that it lacks a few things (recent editions, recent catalog numbers, recently discovered recordings), that it shouldn't be considered an authority on track titles, and that it's not completely trivial to use if you are not accustomed to such resources.
  • Michael Fitzgerald discography project contains a slew of valuable links and information. Fitzgerald is also famous for his completely unknown but remarkable Brian discographic tool.
  • http://www.barnesandnoble.com http://cd.ciao.co.uk (and .de / .fr) http://www.priceminister.com http://www.alapage.com which are all online stores either storing UPC/EAN or scans of sleeves, may help you also
  • Artist dedicated discography: they should be available as AdvancedRelationships under the corresponding artist. If you find a valuable resource that is not, please add it to that artist.

Laundry list

The following are known ongoing tidying efforts, declared intention to, or implicit:

  • Editor:dmppanda: Django Reinhardt, Charles Mingus, VA compilations, Thelonious Monk, Eric Dolphy, Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman
  • Editor:mo: Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman
  • Editor:Yllona+Richardson: all new cats, Marsalis possee

Before you go ahead...

Do you think you know enough:

Editing

What is Jazz after all?

We don't refer to Jazz as a genre, but rather as a specific way music can be done, thus as a specific discographic approach we need to use for it. This has the side effect of letting us escape the "genre" prison (eg: consider some Tzadik productions as Jazz), and possibly let some "Jazz music" fall out of scope of this approach.

Indeed, we don't mind at all genres frontiers and definitions. We do mind heuristic and methodology.

"Jazz" has the following characteristics:

  • strongly rely on the use of acoustic instruments
  • records are rarely the object of strong post-production, remixing, overdubbing, and tend to be made by choosing simply the best take
  • essentially recorded in studio as it is when played live
  • "bands" and "groups" concepts are most of the time replaced by the idea of "formation"
  • the biggest amount of material comes from the 45-70 period
  • the material have frequently been reissued numerous times, in various forms, eventually with very different release names / release artist name
  • the ratio of new compositions / existing compositions per release is significantly lower than with other music
  • artist intent on tracks titling is almost inexistent

Classical music shares some of these characteristics, to some extent.

Thus:

  • we value precise venue information, including recording dates, locations, engineer and producer names
  • more generally, we value all session information, especially musicians names and instruments
  • we think release history is absolutely crucial
  • we think titles should be harmonized across releases
  • we tend to value more discographic exactitude and research, over the traditional "the release cover says it all"
  • some of us are just crazy-nuts :p, including a few completists

Why trusting cd covers too much is wrong, Volume 1: "Why am I treated so bad?"

You might want to first try by yourself to determine from cover art the release artist of this album.

Now that you concluded you can't, you also know why: a release title and a release artist often change between successive strictly identical editions of an album. The reasons vary, but may be narrowed down to:

  • a label simply decides to change the cover art, and change the font size and/or mentions about the participants, and/or add/strip a formation name
  • a label may decide not to publish an album under the real artist name, but rather use the (supposedly more commercial) name of one of the sidemen
  • after a catalog changes hands, a new label decides to reissue the album putting emphasis on another participant of the session which may "sell" more than the previously credited artist
  • the album is unofficially reissued by a bootleg company which either doesn't know exactly what they reissue, or just give fantasist, misspelled, or completely false indications
  • a reissue label decides to restore discographic truth and reissues with proper information an album previously improperly attributed

The problem of course is that most listeners/users:

  • are not discographers
  • don't necessarily know the artists enough to make a decision by just hearing the album
  • don't care about discographically inexact data, as long as they have the feeling their album is tagged according to what they think they bought
  • might even bug you to death because they think having the cd cover suddenly entitle them to decide what is discographic truth

Which of course might lead to the situation of a caring moderator constantly merging/correcting again and again the very same albums, constantly arguing on the same things, not to mention deep user dissatisfaction.

So?

Here are a few suggestions to find a decent resolution to this category of problem:

  • if a release is a bootleg, discographic truth is an absolute rule, and inexact release information must be discarded and simply ignored (you probably won't be bugged by users with these: remember that most obscure/completely messed up bootlegs are owned by either completists who do care a lot about exactitude, or by p2p consumers who don't give a damn about the name of the stuff)
  • the same rule should apply with blatantly inexact information (even with legit labels)
  • if the very same album exists in two editions with very different names and release artist (both actually available), you probably have no choice but let it go and not try to merge / correct the bogus release artist: you can't win that battle (think Coltrane Time, or the infamous Adderley and Coltrane)

Why trusting cd covers too much is wrong, Volume 2: Sessions are not Releases

Sessions are not releases. Jazz formations are not groups, and are not release artists.

The fantasy of label producers and/or cover designer, mentioning session formation names either as a decorative feature, either as a convenient indication to inform consumer about the type of the record (big band, small formation) or because they consumed too much booze, should not be taken into account to determine a release artist.

So you really shouldn't use formations names as release artist on single artists releases. And you shouldn't use formations names as track artist on VA releases.

Of course, there are exceptions - eg: there exist formations that presented all the characteristics of a group. In this case of course, use the formation name as a release artist.

This is the major task, biggest problem, and main source of hatred we have to cope with in Jazz - but we must tackle it, and we must save ourselves from the artist BigMess.

Why the concept of group is essentially inadequate to represent formations

A group:

  • is a named entity, and is created by one or more persons
  • has an history: creation, old members departing, new members arriving, disband
  • is distinct from its members, at least in the intention if not in facts
  • may be assimilated to the notion of "project", from the point of view of its participants
  • has a consistency: members don't change overnight, and most time stick together for a while
  • has a structure, that doesn't evolve much: functions in the group are distributed to persons
  • should be considered as an artist entry or as a performance name, as it is indeed the intent of the artists to release stuff under that particular name representing the entity they created

A jazz formation (most time):

  • is not a named entity, and is not created
  • doesn't have an history (something not created can't...)
  • is essentially a numerical indication of the number of sidemen present on a particular gig, and is essentially an extension of its leader
  • may be assimilated to the notion of back-up "band", from the point of view of its leader
  • has no consistency: John Doe trio may change three times in three sessions (except John Doe of course)
  • has no fixed structure: overnight, John Doe trio may be a bass/piano/drums, then a guitar/saxophone/drums
  • should NOT be considered as an artist entry or as a performance name, as most time, a John Doe Sextet album is a John Doe created, composed and led album, where session musician do play and accompany John Doe.

Jazz Help Needed

I guess a section for questions about jazz releases, before entering them, wouldn't be a bad thing? :)

I'm looking at entering a Coltrane bootleg set; none of the set appears to be in the database yet. Covers are available. Coltrane's the commonality to all the discs, but the artists per track/set vary. How would the jazz editors enter this? Just 1) each disc as the performing group on that disc, or 2) VA as release artist and performing group as track artist, or 3) Coltrane as the release artist and performing group as track artist, or 4) some other way? #3 would maintain correct artist ID while keeping the box together for RA... There's a little cross-releasing of tracks - I know tracks 1 and 2 of disc 2 are officially released as well, but the remainder of disc 2, and all of disc 1, is otherwise unreleased officially afaik. -- BrianSchweitzer 23:23, 07 April 2008 (UTC)

  • I would go for #3. The releases are clearly "advertised" as from PrimaryArtist Coltrane. As for the TrackArtists, setting them to the "formations" is not necessarily a good idea... ARing everything with the performers is definitely a good idea though. Now, beware there have been numerous different versions of this serie of bootlegs floating around, with tracklist/disc spliting variants, repackaging, etc - not to mention I'm pretty sure a good part of that serie has been released otherwise. If this makes it in the db, I will probably be a tight arse and request solid backup information... But of course I'll help you entering that stuff and digging the disco info if you need my 2 cents ;) -- dmppanda 08:52, 08 April 2008 (UTC)
    • I'm pretty sure I know where at least some of the variation came from; that's handleable with annotations, I think. So you'd go with just Coltrane (the person, no group) as track artist as well, just leaving the group IDs to ARs? Just thinking as example, of disc 1, where the entire disc appears to be some Miles Davis formulation, Quintet or not, even if Coltrane (solo) is the RA. But if ARs are clear enough to handle it... *shrug* - that's why I try to avoid trying to comprehend the artist field assignments for jazz releases.  :D Thanks for the advice - I'm sure I'll see correction comments on the add edits. -- BrianSchweitzer 21:29, 08 April 2008 (UTC)