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Further to Quebec government and university directives, McGill campuses are currently closed. As a result, all library branches are closed until further notice. Library staff will continue to provide virtual reference during service hoursFor more information about the closure, please visit our COVID -19 | Library Closure & Service Disruptions FAQ.

Search the Library's Sofia Discovery tool


Note: Not all resources can be found through this search tool (catalogue).

Consult the resources on this and other guides to access additional sources.

Sources for background information

Encyclopedias and dictionaries

  • The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz (Feather and Gitler)
    REF ML102 J3 F39 1999
  • The Complete Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz, 1900-1950. 4 vols. (Kinkle)
    REF ML102 P66 K55
  • The Encyclopedia of Jazz (Feather)
    REF ML105 F34 1955
  • Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: An Encyclopedia (Jenkins) 2 vols.
    ML102 J3 J46 2004
  • Glossary of Jazz Terms
  • The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 2nd ed. 6 vols. (Larkin, ed.)
    REF ML102 P66 G84 1995
  • The Miller Companion to Jazz in Canada and Canadians in Jazz (Miller)
    ML3509 C2 M536 2001
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. 2nd ed. (Kernfeld, ed.)
    Online via Oxford Music Online or in print: REF ML102 J3 N48 2001
  • The Virgin Encyclopedia of Jazz. Rev. ed. (Larkin, ed.)
    REF ML3506 V57 2004


  • Jazz Books in the 1990s: An Annotated Bibliography (Hochstat-Greenberg)
    REF ML128 J3 H63 2010
  • The Jazz Ensemble Companion: A Guide to Outstanding Big Band Arrangements Selected by Some of the Foremost Jazz Educators (Caniato)
    REF ML128 B29 C36 2009
  • Jazz Fiction: A History and Comprehensive Reader’s Guide (Rife)
    PN3352 J39 R54 2008
  • Jazz Scholarship and Pedagogy: A Research and Information Guide. 3rd ed. (Meadows)
    REF ML128 J3 M34 2006

Recorded music

Finding recordings

The Music Library has thousands of jazz recordings on CD, DVD, streaming audio online, LP, video, and even 78 rpm discs. Here are some examples, with tips on how to find various types of recordings and formats:

McGill jazz ensembles

The McGill Concert Recordings database provides McGill-only access to performances of Schulich School of Music large ensembles, including jazz ensembles, from 2008 to the present. (VPN connection required off-campus.) Each recording is accompanied by a corresponding concert programme. Certain pre-2008 performances by McGill jazz ensembles are archived in the Library and can be located via the Library catalogue.

Selected video recording performances are also available to all via the Schulich School of Music YouTube channel

Uncatalogued LPs

Several thousand uncatalogued LPs, arranged by label name, are available on the 4 shelf ranges closest to the 4th-floor desk. Feel free to browse or ask a member of the full-time Music Library staff for assistance.

Online streaming audio collections

  • Naxos Music Library Jazz
    Over 2000 albums from 22 different labels
  • DRAM
    Especially strong in avant-garde performers that straddle classical and jazz (Cecil Taylor, Keith Jarrett, and Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, for example)
  • Smithsonian Global Sound (access via BAnQ; requires free subscription to remote services)
    Rich in the roots of jazz - ragtime and blues - as well as more contemporary jazz traditions

Find more search tips at the Online audio and discographies page.

Online streaming video collections

    • Dedicated to jazz, soul, funk, and world music
    • Catalogue features over 500 concerts, documentaries, and rare archival footage
    • Most videos are subtitled in English or French

Recording equipment

The Music Library offers loans of audio/video recording and playback equipment to McGill students, faculty, and staff. (Note: Certain items are available only to Schulich School of Music students and faculty.) Video cameras, microphones, stands, audio recording devices as well as Mac laptops with music editing software may be reserved by music students and faculty at the 4th-floor service desk. Please see the Library's Audio/video recording and playback equipment page for more information.


Finding scores

Fake books

Fake books provide the basic melody, lyrics, and chord changes for a wide range of repertoire from the American Songbook classics to Latin jazz. See a complete list of titles in the Music Library collection.

To locate a song in a fake book, consult:


The Music Library collects published arrangements. Browse the 3rd-floor shelves around M1366 or search the Library catalogue for jazz scores or big band scores to see titles in the collection.

Gertrude Whitley Performance Library

The Gertrude Whitley Performance Library (5th floor) also has nearly 1000 scores listed in its Jazz catalogue. Use the VPN when connecting off-campus.

Artist Transcriptions series

This series of scores reproduces the recorded performances of several jazz greats in print. See a complete list of titles in the Music Library collection.

Instructional materials

Scores written to develop particular skills such as improvisation or comping may be found by searching the following subject headings in the Library catalogue:

Aebersold scores and cds

The Aebersold series of "play-a-long book and cd sets" allow jazz musicians to practice their parts with a pre-recorded back-up. Both scores and cds are available at the 4th-floor loans desk. See a complete list of titles in the Music Library collection.

Sheet Music Collection

The Music Library has over 6000 pieces of popular sheet music. Too fragile to place on the shelves, the Sheet Music Collection is a treasure trove of standards and Broadway tunes. Ask a Library staff member if you wish to consult the printed music.

Transcription and score-writing software

Transcribe! software

The Music Student Computer Room computers have Transcribe! software that will slow down the fastest lick to facilitate transcription. Student technicians can offer help in using the software.

Sibelius and Finale

To create new arrangements, use Sibelius or Finale. This software is available in the Music Student Computer Room and on select computers on the 4th and 5th floors of the Music Library.



Many researchers have tried to document the complex history of jazz recordings. Discographies list who recorded what, with whom, when, and where. They are essential tools for the jazz historian.

Print discographies are located both on the 4th floor of the Library in the Audio-Visual Reference section and on the 5th floor in the regular stacks. Below are listed only a few examples. Many more may be discovered by browsing the shelves at the call number ML156.

General discographies

  • The Jazz Discography Online (TJD Online)
    • Source of information about jazz records and jazz recording sessions
    • Encompasses all genres of jazz and contains information about 400,000+ recordings released between 1896 and today
    • Sessions are listed by bandleader name and presented in chronological order: details include tune titles as well as the names of all supporting musicians and the instrument(s) they played
    • The date, matrix and record company release numbers of each recording are also included
  • 60 Years of Recorded Jazz, 1917-1977. 13 vols. (Bruyninckx)
    REF ML156.4 J3 B82
  • Jazz Discography Project

By record label

  • The Blue Note Label: A Discography (Cuscuna and Ruppli)
    REF ML156.4 J3 C87 2001
  • The Clef/Verve Labels: A Discography (Ruppli and Porter)
    REF ML156.2 R784 1986
  • The Prestige Label: A Discography (Ruppli and Porter)
    REF ML156.2 R786

By artist

  • Dis Here: A Bio-Discography of Julian "Cannonball" Adderley (Sheridan)
    REF ML156.7 A33 S5 2000
  • Ella Fitzgerald: An Annotated Discography; Including a Complete Discography of Chick Webb (Johnson)
    REF ML156.7 F594 J64 2001
  • Ellingtonia: The Recorded Music of Duke Ellington and His Sidemen (Timner)
    REF ML156.5 E45 T5 1988

Searching the library catalogue

Truncation symbol: * e.g. saxophone* will retrieve catalogue records containing the words saxophone and saxophones.
Phrase searching: "___" e.g. "cool jazz" will retrieve catalogue records containing the phrase cool jazz.
Boolean operators: ( ), AND, OR, NOT
default: AND
e.g. jazz AND (free OR improvization) will retrieve catalogue records containing the word jazz AND either of the words free OR improvization.

Useful Subject Headings

Jazz History and Criticism
Big Bands
Boogie Woogie music
Bop music (for "Bebop")
Cool jazz
Dixieland music
Free jazz
Latin jazz
Swing music


Below are a few select journal and magazine titles. Find a more complete list of both print and online periodicals by searching the subject heading Jazz periodicals in the Library catalogue.

Print periodicals are available on the 5th floor of the Music Library. Online journals of course are available anywhere access to the Internet permits.

Academic journals

Popular magazines

Periodicals on microfilm

The Music Library owns runs of several significant jazz periodicals on microfilm. Ask at the 3rd-floor staff area for any of the following:

  • Billboard (1920s – )
  • DownBeat (1937 – 1976)

Over 20 titles published from 1914-1977.

  • Australian Jazz Quarterly
    no.1 (1946:May)-no.31 (1957)
  • Les cahiers du jazz
    no 1(1959)-no 16/17 (1968)
  • Clef
    v.1 (1946)
  • The Discophile
    no.1 (1948)-no.61 (1958)
  • Hip
    v.1:no.1 (1962:Sept.)-v.1:no.2 (1962:Oct.)
    v.1:no.4 (1962:Dec.)-v.2:no.6 (1964:Mar.)
    v.2:no.8 (1964:May)-v.10 (1971)
  • HRS Society Rag
  • Jazz (Berkeley, CA)
    no.1 (1958:Oct.)-no.5 (1960:Winter)
  • Jazz (Forest Hills, NY)
    v.1:no.1 (1942:June), v.1:no.5/6 (1943:Jan.)-v.1:no.10 (1943:Dec.)
  • Jazz Digest
    v.1 (1972)-v.3 (1974)
  • Jazz Information
    v.1 (1939)-v.2 (1941)
  • Jazz Magazine
    no 1 (1954:déc.)-no 123 (1965:oct.)
    no 125 (1965:déc.)-no 140 (1967:mars)
    no 142 (1967:mai)-no 148 (1967:nov.)
    no 196/206 (1972)-no 229/239 (1975)
    no 251/260 (1977)-no 279/388 (1989)
  • Jazz Quarterly
    v.1 (1942)-v.2 (1946)
  • The Jazz Record
    no.1 (1943)-no.60 (1947)
  • Jazz Session
    no.1 (1944)-no.13 (1946)
  • Matrix
    no.1-no. 16, no.21-68, no.70, no.72-no.76, no.89, no.96-no.107/108
  • Music and Rhythm
    v.1 (1940)-v.3 (1942)
  • NAJE Educator
    v.1 (1968)-v.9 (1977)
  • The Needle
    v.1(1944)-v.2 (1945)
  • Playback
    v.1 (1948)-v.4 (1952)
  • Ragtime Review
    v.1 (1914)-v.4 (1918)
  • The Second Line
    v.1 (1950:Apr.)-v.28 (1976:fall)

Location and contacts

Music Library Staff's picture
Music Library Staff
Elizabeth Wirth Music Building
3rd floor - 527 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1E3

Resource key

  • McGill users only
  • Open access resource
  • Free resource
  • In-library use
  • Catalogue record

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