In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by:
  • Naxos Music Library Jazz
  • Sha Towers
Naxos Music Library Jazz. Naxos Digital Services. (Accessed August 2010-December 2010). [Requires a Web browser and an Internet connection, sound card with speakers/headphones, and Adobe Flash Player 9 or higher. Pricing: $70 per user (annual subscription).]

In 2004, Naxos Digital Services launched both its classical music streaming service (Naxos Music Library) and what would be the first jazz-focused music streaming service, Naxos Music Library Jazz (hereafter NMLJ). As of November 2010, Naxos reports the inclusion of over 52,000 tracks representing nearly 9,000 artists.


As of this review, NMLJ included 109 record labels with 4,463 albums, however all of [End Page 807] these recordings are not available in the U.S. (or several other countries) due to copyright restrictions.1 Considering just the materials available in the United States, 20 percent of the labels in NMLJ have only one album. Sixty percent of the labels in NMLJ offer ten or fewer albums. The second and third largest labels, Challenge Classics (357) and Enja (351), make up 16 percent of the database, while the largest portion of NMLJ is comprised of the labels under the umbrella of Fantasy Records. Totaling more than 2,100 albums, the body of materials from Fantasy Records makes up 48 percent of NMLJ.

While Fantasy Records has been involved in recording all kinds of music (making its first big break thanks to its relationship with Creedence Clearwater Revival), the company got its start in jazz with their first recording artist, Dave Brubeck. Fantasy went on to record other jazz artists like Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Cal Tjader, Cannonball Adderley, Woody Herman, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, and Vince Guaraldi. In the 1970s the company began acquiring a number of independent jazz labels, a move that resulted in an extensive reissue program of recordings of landmark figures like Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and the Modern Jazz Quartet.2

Navigating NMLJ

The NMLJ homepage is clean and functional. Recent and featured additions can be browsed here and clicking on "more recent additions" displays the most recent upload (including artist/title/catalog number and date added to NMLJ. This page also provides options to select different date ranges (roughly a month's worth at a time). An RSS feed for new additions is also available. The main navigation for the site is found in the header with tabs for Labels, Artists, Composers, Genres, Playlists, and Advanced Search. The header also includes a keyword search box. Links to help files (searching tips, user instructions, and FAQs), though present, might be more effective if displayed more prominently with the rest of the main navigation. The searching tips file was obviously borrowed wholesale from Naxos Music Library (as all of the examples are drawn from the realm of Western classical music), suggesting that support for NMLJ was an afterthought.


The "Labels" tab provides quick, easy access to all labels included in NMLJ, though this page doesn't indicate the quantity of recordings associated with each (see Fig. 1 for total number of albums per label). Clicking on a label name links to a list of its recordings and includes an icon and brief description of the label (ex. from Naxos Jazz Legends: "This label is devoted to the great jazz musicians of the past, from Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Louis Armstrong to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Django Reinhardt.") The description is most useful when encountering unfamiliar labels ("Oh, they focus on Icelandic rag time cylinder reissues?"), but for companies [End Page 808] that are not exclusively jazz-related, the description may not be that helpful, as the information is not customized to explain why recordings from this label are included in NMLJ. However, selecting recordings from the list will at least indicate the assigned genre, which may help to discern a label's focus.

The "Artists" and "Composers" pages provide a convenient way to browse people in the database. Some birth/death dates are included. Both tabs suggest the inclusion of biographies, though these appear to be rare (ex. Louis Armstrong). What biographies do exist seem to come from...