While many discographies exist that document the appearances of great jazz artists on recording sessions, they don’t all necessarily document whether a great artist is actually soloing on a given session. Consequently, if you are searching for examples of the beautiful solo work of, for example, altoist Hilton Jefferson (who was an inspiration to many great lead alto players of the big band era), you may find yourself combing through many recordings struggling to determine which moments feature his solo work.
To combat this, people have compiled solographies, or books that focus on recorded solos of given musicians. Most famously, Jan Evensmo has for years worked on precisely this project for a vast range of artists in Jazz.
What’s more – he has placed his work on his website for free public access: check out www.jazzarcheology.com to see his impressive archive of solographies. Each text features the names of recording sessions, as well as some basic notes about where an artist’s solo appears and how long it lasts, as well as some short commentary about the nature and quality of the solo.
It should be noted that a solography like Evensmo’s won’t necessarily give you details on where to find a given track on LP or CD reissues; you’ll have to use standard discographies to track those down. However, works like Evensmo’s will give you impressive depth of insight into the playing and artistic development of some of Jazz’s greatest artists, and introduce you to some beautiful solos you hadn’t heard before. Enjoy!