Things have come a long, long way since discographies were just lists of records with personnel and recording dates where known. This beautiful-looking tome was originally intended as a list of 78s containing French Caribbean music; this includes recordings made in mainland France, England and the U.S.A. within the specified time constraints, and jazz recordings featuring French-Caribbean musicians (from Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana) with either French or American musicians, or their involvement with Latin or African sessions; popular entertainers such as Henri Salvador receive only partial listings, comprising only those titles that are 'idiomatic repertoire of the French Antilles". It became apparent that the end of the 78 rpm era was difficult to define, so 1959 was picked as the most logical end-date. Standard discographical format is followed in the listing itself, which means of course that the first listed session is of four North American spirituals recorded by Louis Achille in 1934! Releases are given for 78s, microgroove and CD issues, there is a checklist for vinyl and CD releases, a list of names, and a title index, in addition to the main discography itself. That may be the prime purpose of the book, but it is actually less than half of the story.
Alain Boulanger, John Cowley & Marc Monneraye, Creole Music of the French West Indies: A Discography 1900–1959. Holste-Oldendorf, Germany: Bear Family Records, 2014. 367 pp. (Cloth US$ 61.18)
This book is a rarity—a discography that dazzles: one part visual treat, one part meticulous scholarly document. Its publisher, known for lavish boxed sets of rereleased popular music of the past (mostly American and European), took its first major plunge into Caribbean music in 2006 with ten CD s of classic Trinidadian recordings from the late 1930s accompanied by a thick, beautifully illustrated book including chapters by several of the world’s leading calypso scholars