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Jazz Resources in the Music & Recorded Sound Division...and Beyond: Non-circulating books, recordings, and periodicals

Circulating, non-circulating, and online resources related to jazz. Created by Jessica Wood, Assistant Curator of Music & Recorded Sound

Non-circulating books on jazz

The Music & Recorded Sound Division holds books on jazz history, jazz composition and arrangement, jazz performance, as well as biographies of jazz musicians. These include books published in Europe and South America, as well as books published during the genre's early years in the 1920s.

To browse our holdings, we recommend using our Classic Catalog to conduct an "advanced search," following these steps:

  • Head to the NYPL Classic Catalog at www.catalog.nypl.org
  • Click on "Advanced Search" at the end of the list on the left hand side of your screen
  • On the next screen, limit the search by location by selecting "Performing Arts Research Collections - Music"
  • Also limit the search by material type by selecting "book/text"
  • Enter a subject in the search box. Recommended subjects include: "jazz history and criticism"; "jazz analysis"; "jazz festivals"; or "jazz instruction and study." If you are interested in jazz from a particular part of the world, enter the word jazz plus the name of a country. If you are interested in a particular time period, enter the word jazz plus a particular decade. (Note that subject headings for decades follow the format 1921-1930; 1931-1940; etc).

Please note that many items published more than10 years ago may be stored at our offsite facility and will need to be requested in advance. Feel free to ask a librarian or email us at music@nypl.org if you need assistance placing an offsite request. Items typically take two business days to arrive once requested.

Discographies

The Music & Recorded Sound Division also holds one of the world leading collections of discographies, numbering over 7,000. Among these discographies are over 800 titles that document the recorded history of jazz. Some of these are devoted to particular artists or ensembles, while others are devoted to particular record labels, time periods, or sub-genres of jazz (such as swing or be-bop).

Below are some recommended steps for browsing our collection of jazz-related discographies:

  • Head to our Classic Catalog (www.catalog.nypl.org)
  • Click on "Advanced Search" at the end of the list on the left hand side of your screen
  • On the next screen, limit the search by location by selecting "Performing Arts Research Collections - Recorded Sound"
  • Also limit the search by material type by selecting "book/text"
  • Enter the word "discography" in the search box, along with the word "jazz," the name of a sub-genre, record label, artist, country, or time period. If you are interested in a particular time period, enter the word jazz plus a particular decade. (Note that subject headings for decades follow the format 1921-1930; 1931-1940; etc).
  • Browse the resulting list of titles

Please note that a number of our discographies, particularly those published more than 10 years ago, are stored offsite and must be requested in advance. Feel free to ask a librarian or email us at music@nypl.org if you need assistance placing an offsite request. Items typically take two business days to arrive once requested.

Periodicals

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(Above) Abundant Sounds Magazine, published in Philadelphia between 1963-1964. The Music & Recorded Sound Division is one of two libraries worldwide with known copies of this short-lived publication.

The Music & Recorded Sound Division has a rich collection of periodicals devoted to jazz from around the world, some of which are quite rare. To browse our holdings of jazz-related periodicals, follow these steps:

  • Head to our Classic Catalog (www.catalog.nypl.org)
  • On the left-hand side of the screen, click to search "by subject"
  • In the search box on the next screen, type "jazz periodicals"
  • On the next screen, click on "jazz--periodicals" 
  • Browse the resulting list of 216 titles

Please note that a number of our periodicals, particularly those published outside of the United States, are stored offsite and must be requested in advance. Feel free to ask a librarian or email us at music@nypl.org if you need assistance placing an offsite request. Items typically take two business days to arrive once requested.

Published recordings

The Music & Recorded Sound Division includes the Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, which is second only to the Library of Congress in the number of recordings held. Among our holdings are thousands of jazz recordings from the 1910s through the present, from all over the world. 

Recordings on commercial formats such as vinyl records, 78rpm records, and compact discs, can be auditioned onsite at the Library for the Performing Arts, with no advance appointment necessary. Please note that because of the rarity of many of our recordings, we do not permit patrons to handle the physical discs except by appointment in the Special Collections Reading Room. Liner notes and record jackets may however be requested without an appointment.

While many of these recordings are searchable in the online catalog, some are indexed only on card files or on a series of microfiche called the Rigler-Deutsch Index. For more information about searching these, visit this page on how to search for recordings: https://libguides.nypl.org/RHA/find