The National Jazz Museum in Harlem (NJMH) today announced the acquisition of a historic collection of never-before-heard recordings, including live performances of great American Jazz icons from 1935-1941. The collection of 975 aluminum and vinyl discs, over 100 hours of material, was created by William Savory, a recording engineer and Harvard-educated physicist. Savory worked as at a radio transcription service in New York between 1935 and 1941 and used the equipment his job afforded him to record hundreds of hours of material directly off the radio.
The collection includes live performances by Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Lionel Hampton, Fats Waller, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, and more, as well as classical broadcasts including Toscanini, Ormandy, and Kristen Flagstad. The quality of the discs is extraordinary for the time, as most jazz enthusiasts in the 1930s did not have the access to professional equipment that Savory enjoyed.
The National Jazz Museum in Harlem's Executive Director Loren Schoenberg discovered the collection after a 24 year cultivation that started with his meeting William Savory in 1980. Savory died in 2004 and Schoenberg acquired the discs in April, 2010 for the museum through Savory's heir, Eugene Desavouret, of Malta, Illinois.
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