Articles Comments » Jan Evensmo (1939-2024)

Jan Evensmo (1939-2024)

Jan Evensmo was the founder of, a guide to the treasures of Vintage Jazz. Unfortunately, Jan passed away the 4th of February 2024.

We will on this page post greetings from all his jazz friends. Feel free to send your personal greeting to and we will publish it here.

His death is mentioned in several jazz websites, including Jazz Lives (in English) and Salt Peanuts (in Norwegian).


For ages, Jan was for me just a name in Jazz magazines, where it appeared that his name was revered as that of a reference person. When I had the opportunity to get to know his work better, I realized that this fame was more than deserved! Having been among his correspondents in recent years was an honor for me. I miss him already.

Keep on swingin’ up there, Jan!
Paul-Emile Chenois


Dear Jan Evensmo,

We never met, but you were always present in my jazz-related life, simply by the reliability of your research, by the openness of your vision, by the willingness to share your knowledge and by your encouragement to others to do the same. Whenever I talk about jazz research, I also talk about these tireless discographers who do such fundamental work that they deserve an academic degree for it. But the really important thing is that with each revised edition of your discographic research, you reminded us of how jazz musicians develop their art in the here and now, how their art is both deeply personal and here to stay. I was going to say, your work rocks… however, it might be more appropriate to say that it – and with it you – will always keep on swinging.

Keep on enjoying the music, wherever you are!

Wolfram Knauer
(former director of the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt)


Jan’s labour of love is greatly appreciated by jazz aficionados and historians around the world. I applaud him for his many contributions and will remember him forever.

Francis Dance
(Son of jazz journalists and historians Stanley Dance and Helen Oakley Danc)
(United States)


I first met Jan in 1960, when Oslo Jazz Circle held its meetings in the living room of his parents, Sigurd and Randi. He was 20, I was 19, and we became close friends. The last time I saw him, was in his home on Saturday evening February 3d. He was as warm and positive as always; and the heart surgery he underwent two months ago, did not seem to have made him much weaker. He had actually gone skiing for 6 miles a couple of days earlier! What a shock when I learned that he had passed away the next day. I mourned more than I have ever done before. During the last decades, Jan in my opinion has become the most important jazz historian of our time. His work will live as long as interest in vintage jazz lives.

Ronnie Johanson


My condolences to Jan’s entire family. Jan will be greatly missed as a friend to us all.

Nils Gunnar Anderby


I had the honnor of collaborating with Jan about two great pianists he loved very much, my good friend François Rilhac and the incredible Donald Lambert. He came to Paris for attending a memorial concert I did with François’ band members about ten years ago, and I had the opportunity of meeting Jan and introducing him to the family of Rilhac. I’ve always been amazed with his incredible output in discographies, all of them super-documented. He obviously listened to all the titles, which is an enormous amount of work and concentration. So we jazz lovers are losing the invaluable help of a trustful friend who gave us so much. Thank you for all of that and Rest in piece, Jan.

Louis Mazetier


So very sorry to learn that Jan’s contribution has ended. Through a long listening journey beginning in the 1970s, his insights have been a constant companion and stimulus, generally agreed with, sometimes not, but always insightful and inspiring, and always respectful of the creators (which is sadly not a given). I am glad that I was occasionally able to make a meaningful contribution in return. Rest in peace, Jan.

Howard Rye
(United Kingdom)


Jan you will be dearly missed!

Ben Kragting (Stichting Doctor Jazz)


I met Jan Evensmo just a few years ago. He was in the audience on many of my concerts in Oslo and abroad. I was already aware of his great developing work – The Solographies, that he made over many years available in print, and in the later years on I have used them as a reference.

Jan approached me on a concert and i was introduced to him. From that moment I felt included in something very special. I was invited to his home several times to listen to both well known and almost unheard music. He was very interested to have opinions on different musicians and their playing. From me specially on the trumpet players perspective. I was of course very interested to have his thoughts on this wonderful and complex music. He was very egar to share what he had learned and let me hear music he discovered in collaboration with his many contacts around the world. It was at Jan’s place I was able to hear the alternative take by Lester Young on Lady Be Good 1936 for the first time. Jan gave me many moments like that – the feeling of being closer to the history of jazz, almost like being there when it happened.

He was not “just” a discographer. I felt he was interested in the people around him, me included. We enjoyed good food, drinks and conversation when we met. As we learned to know eachother better, I saw that Jan was a very special man. He loved and lived all aspects of life. Still curious, still hungry to his last day for what the life had to offer. An example to all of us.

My friend Jan Evensmo is not among us anymore. He lives in our memories. Thank you Jan for letting me be a part of your life, these years.

Torstein Kubban


Regretfully I never had the opportunity to meet Jan in person. His more recent trips to the States and his attendance at the Unilateral Hot Club of Morristown meetings were unfortunately generally held on work days. Nonetheless, like so many others, I am astounded by his listening and achievements. His devoted work has introduced me to new musicians, new records, and new understandings of the music. For this, I will always be grateful. Amongst my prized possessions are a handful of 78s that Jan sold to some of us Hot Club members a few years back––ostensibly the very discs that Jan used to craft his enduring solographies! These remain carefully marked among the most prized 78s in my collection. Everytime I listen or refer to his solography, I know that Jan lives!

All the best,
Parker Fishel
(United States)


I had the pleasure of meeting Jan at a IAJRC convention here in the USA many moons ago. He filled my head with so much information that I needed two aspirins! Jan was a trailblazer. I use his solographies for my radio show, for research, and just to spend an hour reading. I was again in touch with Jan through my friend James Accardi and have been (slowly) working on a Hallie Dismukes solography. This I will finish and send to you.

Keep swingin’, Mr. Evensmo!!!

Jim Gallert
Jazz Archaeologist – Scribe – Presenter
(United States)


Please excuse the “me” focus in this tribute to our dear Jan, but I hope it makes clear how extraordinarily his generosity affected fellow collectors and enthusiasts around the world.

I dropped a letter in the mailbox to far away Norway. In those pre-internet days, the distance seemed palpable. A Scandinavian gentleman had written something about Lester Young in a self-published pamphlet that I took exception to. It seemed beyond expectation that I’d hear from him, much less that it would open the door to one of most unique and warmly felt friendships I’d ever experience.

Jan Evensmo had assigned himself the task not only of tracing his favorite jazz artists through the ever-deepening field of discography, but counting the measured numbers of each solo, and then making well-informed comments about each solo’s relative merits. And he wasn’t even a musician!

Record collecting back then – before sharing the entire recorded output of Ellington and Armstrong could be accomplished by pressing a few buttons on a device held in one hand – was generally a solitary endeavor. . You met fellow worshipers at a the bin of a favorite artist at a record store, scanning the liner notes as you weighed buying the album or not. Sooner or later, you would probably be invited to meet others who shared the same passion. If you were fortunate enough to live near a big city, there might even be monthly meetings where the joy and arcana of obsessive collecting merged.

Jan afforded what was, at the time, an extremely exotic opportunity: Have a jazz-like jam about old jazz records with someone in ScandinaviaI had never met. Next thing I knew he included some of our back and forths in his monographs, and it made me think there could be a future in following his example of sharing well-considered thoughts about the music I loved.

A couple of decades passed before Jan and I met in person, but he wrote with such enthusiasm and personality in our correspondence that I felt I already knew him well. Our first meetings were in New York, followed by Oslo, where he created a session about The Savory Collection at the National Archives.As much of an august occasion as that was, the most memorable part of the event was held in his apartment that evening with just a handful of people present.

Jan gathered many of his oldest friends for a Savory listening session. The core group began meeting when they were still teens, listening to, discussing, arguing, , and just sharing the love of their favorite jazz artists. One of the most moving things they shared with me was that, whenever a Lester Young solo would pop up, they would leap up and stand as a measure of their respect for Pres.That knocked me out, and still does! Another impression that lingers was the respect they all showed for Jan, even with all their brotherly sparring.

As Jan’s efforts modulated from his self-published books (which were found in distinguished public and private libraries around the world) to his website, one could easily see the sheer number of international jazzophiles he corresponded with. His work transcended the sheerly discographical. It was filled with musical details, sharply defined between the objective factual data and the supremely personal/subjective judgements, the latter always presented with humor and lightness.

There is no one who will ever be able to take Jan’s place as a friend and also as a jazz researcher. That’s a fact. Luckily for all of us, his work and his memory will linger as long as there are people who want to dig deeper into the jazz that animates our lives.

Thank you, Jan.

Loren Schoenberg
(United States)


I wrote to Jan for the first time in 2020. I asked about the alternate take of Royal Garden Blues which Cootie Williams recorded with Bud Powell in 1944. Jan kindly sent me both versions – the master and the alternate take. He also sent me some very nice words: “It is hope for jazz, since there are people of your age interested in that old music. Keep going!!”. I will never forget that, I am very grateful for his encouragement. Since then I informed him of newly discovered recordings which I found on the Internet. He appreciated my contributions and kindly mentioned me in several newsletters. He even generously shared some unissued recordings with me.

Recently I have been listening to Classic Don Byas Sessions issued by Mosaic. I noticed something interesting – a phrase played by Kirk Bradford on Sweet Georgia Brown in 1944 with which Dizzy opened his solo on the same tune at the JATP concert in 1946 – and wanted to ask Jan about it but could not get to it because I had a lot of work. And now it is no longer possible… I am still in shock.

I have never met Jan in person but I am very grateful for our correspondence and his work. I learned a lot from his solographies and discovered many wonderful recordings. I hope that JazzArcheology will remain available, it is a very important legacy.

Keep swinging and may the legacy of Jan live on.

Grzegorz Smółka


I always appreciated receiving Jan’s periodic emails on the latest work he or other colleagues had compiled on musicians, many of whom had never had such quality information assembled for them before. The jazz research community, from its earliest days, has always been driven most forcefully by independent researchers/collectors/fans, and Jan epitomized that ethos, compiling excellent documentation and making it freely available worldwide. His love for the music and the musicians shone through in his attention to detail, choice of musicians to research, and simple, clear web design. (I took special delight in his bio-discography of Buster Bailey, one of my favorites.) Jan joins the pantheon of people such as Marshall Stearns, Hugues Panassie, Charles Delaunay, George Avakian, Walter Schaap, Brian Rust, and many others who worked so long and so hard to advance the state of knowledge about jazz, its practitioners, and its recordings. He will be missed, but he leaves behind a valuable body of documentation and an inspiration for us all to continue his good work for the sake of the music and musicians.

Matt Snyder
Archivist, The New York Public Library
(United States)


Jan Evensmo, 1939-2024, founder of My heartfelt condolences to Jan Evensmo’s beloved family. Jan Evensmo devoted his own time, with contributors, to continue his love and documentation of vintage jazz and provide to the public the many unknown jazz artists’ rare recordings known amongst jazz adherents.  As an example, in 2013, I came across one  of the jazz websites that  had a gentleman by the name of Jan Evensmo who was seeking information about Frank Haynes, an unknown  tenor saxophonist, who recorded with Walter Bishop prior to 1965. I responded to his quest as I was impressed with his professionalism and forwarded information to him as others have done and wish to continue to do.

Jan Evensmo, thank you for all that you’ve done to maintain for us jazz devotees the memories of many unknown artists and their recordings.  May the heart of jazz music continue to bless you in your Spiritual Journey. You will be missed but not forgotten.

Shaw Lee Haynes


It was my pleasure on several occasions, to interact with Jan because of our mutual interest in Lucky Thompson, Frank Strozier, Elmo Hope and others.

He found ways to make discography, inherently an arcane subject, interesting and stimulating. And he was a tireless worker, constantly broadening the scope of his interests. He was an inspiration to me and I will miss his important contributions to preserving the legacies of jazz musicians both famous and obscure.

Noal Cohen
(United States)


I got in touch with Jan 5/6 years ago, when I was working on my first book about a niche trumpeter active in NY in the 1950s, Tony Fruscella. My aim was to reconstruct his whole life and music, so the book featured a biography, discography and even my transcriptions of the only full album he recorded. I still remember Jan and I’m grateful for the help he gave me with Fruscella’s discography and solography.

I found lots of handy information on his site, so I contacted him and he gave me a hand at reconstructing the most obscure parts of the artist’s discography. He even gave me some useful contacts to continue my work. I mentioned him in the book when I finished writing it, here are some photos. The parts where Jan is mentioned are highlighted in yellow. At page 11 you can find the chapter about Fruscella’s solography, based on Jan’s information.

The translation of page 116 (acknowledgments) is: “I’d also like to thank Jan Evensmo for his help, thanks to which I could make an accurate and exhaustive analysis of Fruscella’s discography.”

At Page 117 you can find the bibliography, where Jan is also mentioned.

The book was eventually published on Amazon as well (Tony Fruscella: una perla nascosta nella vita frenetica di New York: All of this was possible thanks to Jan’s help too. I’d like to think that he’s now swinging with the Jazz legends he loved and studied with passion.

Enrico Caniato

Tony Fruscella: una perla nascosta nella vita frenetica di New York


Dear Jan,
Every jazz lover owes you.
But every Cab Calloway fan owes you a lot! Like myself who has been passionate for the king of Hi De Ho. Discovering your work 18 years ago has been an important stage in my knowledge of Cab’s music and Jazz in general. At first, your solography of Chu Berry was a milestone. Then the ones for Dizzy Gillespie, and Irving Mouse Randolph. “Real” genuine books. More than that: dedicated encyclopedias to the musicians I listened to without “knowing” their music. From this moment on, I bought all the available paper copies of the solographies. Then, the Internet miracle occurred: you created Jazzarcheology and shared your knowledge with the largest audience possible. Every PDF volume and every update was welcomed like a new gem.
And reading all of them, it appeared that you had a fond love for Cab Calloway, his music, and his musicians. Let’s just list those you worked on:

  • Chu BERRY
  • Jerry BLAKE
  • Andrew BROWN
  • Lester Shad COLLINS
  • Arville HARRIS
  • Illinois JACQUET
  • Claude JONES
  • Jonah JONES
  • Teddy McRAE
  • Ike QUEBEC
  • Sam The Man TAYLOR
  • Walter Foots THOMAS
  • Greely WALTON

While working on the life of clarinetist William Thornton BLUE, you offered to work together with me on his solography. What a thrill it was. And I’ve been able to figure out how you worked, with passion, discipline, demand, and always pleasure. For the love of jazz and friendship. When you released it with my name next to yours, I felt so honored.

So we started to imagine other projects, like the solographies of early trumpeters of Cab Calloway… The last one was about Irving Mouse RANDOLPH, one of the Calloway trumpeters but also a very good friend of yours. A close friend you visited in his NYC apartment.

Your last email is dated Jan 16, saying “Hopefully this will be a good year! I had a small heart operation and am much better now, even did skiing a couple of days ago”. And promised to tell me more about Mouse Randolph. Later. Well, I will have to wait now. But till then, I will cherish all the remarks, notes, and information you shared with us along your solographies.

As it was an honor for me to be listed among the regular contributors, it’s my turn to express all my gratitude to you, Jan. I’ll miss you.

Jean-François PITET

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