The Savory Collection

1000 discs of classic jazz unburied after 50 years!

By The National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Jazz Music's "Savory Collection"

Anthony Mason reports on a lost treasure trove of jazz music called the "Savory Collection," consisting of live radio broadcasts from the late 1930s - and heard only once.

Bill SavoryThe National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Bill Savory

19 year old Bill Savory moved to New York City with a passion for music and a burgeoning genius for technology.

RadioThe National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Listening to radio
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Radio

Radio was by far the most popular form of mass media during the 1930's, and was the source of free entertainment 24 hours a day.

Benny GoodmanThe National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Benny Goodman

Savory's favorite band was Benny Goodman, especially his chamber jazz trio and quartet, one of the pioneering racially integrated groups in American history. 

Runnin' WildThe National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Runnin' Wild Audio
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Runnin' Wild

Here is an excerpt of the Goodman Quartet (Goodman, clarinet/Teddy Wilson, piano/Lionel Hampton, vibraphone/Gene Krupa, drums) jamming late night on the air, luckily captured by Bill Savory. 

Billie Holiday - Strange FruitThe National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Strange Fruit Audio
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Strange Fruit

Holiday's record label would not release this song, so it fell to a small, independent label to issue it. This Savory aircheck is the first live version we have of this searing music. 

Earl HinesThe National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Earl Hines
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Earl Hines

Earl Hines was one of the most brilliant and innovative jazz musicians off all time. One his biggest fans was Nat “King” Cole, who copied Hines’ piano style as a young man.

Count BasieThe National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Count Basie

Count Basie's band, new to New York, introduced a new sound, fresh from Kansas City. It's most brilliant soloist was tenor saxophonist Lester Young.

Jumpin' at the WoodsideThe National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Jumpin' at the Woodside Audio
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Jumpin' at the Woodside

Although all of these bands played for dancing, there were always people crowded around the bandstand to listen closely to Young's wonderful solos. 

Duke Ellington and Django ReinhardtThe National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Honeysuckle Rose Audio
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Duke Ellington and Django Reinhardt

Bill Savory was particularly struck by Duke Ellington's band, widely considered to be the greatest of all the big bands. In 1946, he brought over the Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt to tour with his band. They made no recordings, but Savory's collection contains an incredible 

Louis JordanThe National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Louis Jordan
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Louis Jordan

This is Louis Jordan. He was a wonderful singer, bandleader, and saxophonist whose group- known as The Tympani Five - became one of the most popular small bands of the 1940’s.

Cab CallowayThe National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Cab Calloway
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Cab Calloway

It’s been said that Cab Calloway was the Prince of his time.  This is Calloway’s great band, recorded live off the air at New York’s legendary Cotton Club in 1938. You can hear the audience dancing along and really digging everything that Cab and his band are doing. 

Joe MooneyThe National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Joe Mooney
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Joe Mooney

One of the great joys of the Collection is re-discovering artists whose names are not remembered today. Joe Mooney was a blind pianist and accordionist whose intelligence and wit made his quartet of the mid-1940’s one of the combos of the era. This is Mooney’s viper song.  

The Ellington PianoThe National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Savory Collection Artists

Many jazz greats are represented the Collection, such as Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, Ella Fitzgerald, Fats Waller, Chick Webb, and so many more. We have made as many recordings as possible accessible to the public, but the majority of these works be heard only at the museum. 

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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