New Jazz Gems: Basie to Billie

Jazz from the vaults of history. We’ve got samples of the “Savory” recordings, unearthed gems from the 1930’s.

Count Basie’s all-African American band at Carnegie Hall, Dec. 23, 1938. (AP)

Bill Savory was a college dropout radio tech in New York in the late 1930s who liked to record what he heard on the radio. And what he heard in those days was some of the greatest live jazz in history.

The greats of the Swing Jazz era – Ella Fitzgerald, Teddy Wilson, Fats Waller, Benny Goodman, on and on – at the height of their powers.  Bill Savory made nearly a thousand recordings on acetate and aluminum discs.  And hid them away.

Now, they’re out, in the light of day, and pretty amazing.

-Tom Ashbrook


Loren Schoenberg, jazz musician and historian, is executive director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, and author of “The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Jazz.” He acquired the Savory Collection for the National Jazz Museum.

Michael Cogswell, director of the Louis Armstrong House & Archives.

Hear some samples of the Savory recordings, courtesy of the National Jazz Museum:

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