Introducing the Savory Collection

Never – before – heard, live recordings of jazz legends at the height of their careers.

Vols. 1 & 2 now available exclusively on Apple Music.

It’s a jazz lover’s dream come true. Created by recording engineer William Savory, the Savory Collection includes more than 100 hours of recordings made from live New York City radio broadcasts between 1935 and 1941 and never heard since their initial airing. Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Fats Waller, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Django Reinhardt, Coleman Hawkins, Louis Jordan, Lennie Tristano and Bunny Berigan are all showcased in The Savory Collection.

Bill Savory, who recorded commercials off the air for a transcription service by day, compiled his own musical treasure chest at night, recording directly from the radio networks on professional equipment. The extended nightclub and ballroom performances captured were longer, free-flowing, and creatively daring as the artists were freed from the constraints of a conventional studio.

Packed away for decades and only rumored to exist, the Savory  Collection was acquired by the Museum in 2010, the culmination of a 36-year quest. The discovery made headlines around the world, including the front page of The New York Times.

We’ve spent the past six years lovingly restoring this long-buried treasure into high-fidelity digital gems. And now we are thrilled to share the wonders of this music with you.This extraordinary find is an educational gem, an authentic record of our rich musical heritage that adds new layers to the story of jazz as we know it.

Volume 1: Body and Soul features Coleman Hawkins, Ella Fitzgerald, Fats Waller, Lionel Hampton, Carl Kress and Emilio Caceres.

Volume 2: Jumpin’ at the Woodside showcases The Count Basie Orchestra featuring Lester Young.

Rescuing a Lost Era of Jazz History

About Bill Savory

We are thrilled to finally share the wonders of the Savory Collection with the rest of the world. It’s the end of a 36-year quest that is centered on the wondrously strange, brilliant and unique William Alcott Savory (1916-2004). A trained musician, audio engineer who also served the U.S. Navy both in developing their radar technology and as a test pilot (and this is just the tip of his biographical iceberg), Bill Savory was first and foremost a music lover who single handedly captured hundreds of hours of top-shelf music off the air in the six years preceding America’s entry into World War II. His story is truly worthy of a major biography, and over the course of this series of recordings, we will share several reflections on his life and legacy. In this initial volume, however, we focus exclusively on the music.

Contrary to common belief, Savory had nothing to do with the radio broadcasts themselves outside of recording them in New York at the transcription studio at which he was employed. He was not there in person at the broadcasts nor did he produce the music himself. But his genius was in selecting such outstanding moments from the more than 50,000 hours of radio programming to which he had access over the course of those 6 years.

I met Bill Savory in 1980 during my first year working with Benny Goodman. My first question for him was how he had selected the best of his Goodman broadcast recordings for a 1953 Columbia LP set – they were all so wonderful, it must have been a challenge, I assumed. Savory’s reply was that it wasn’t hard at all – he had just picked the best from what was in the first box. That was all I had to hear, and it launched a 24 year crusade to gain access to those other boxes. It was all in vain – with just a few exceptions, Savory didn’t share these treasures with anyone else. Six years later, I was introduced to Bill’s son, Gene. Within a few months, through the generosity of both Gene and NJMH Board Chair Jonathan Scheuer, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem acquired the collection. By far the biggest surprise was that the Goodman recordings comprised less than half of the collection, and now you can hear the wonderful sounds that Bill Savory preserved and then sat on for over half a century.

Loren Schoenberg
Founding Director and Senior Scholar,
National Jazz Museum in Harlem