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National Jazz Museum in Harlem Acquires New Recordings

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.

The search for, and cultivation of, this collection is parallel to the Museum's commitment to preserve the history of Jazz, while nurturing its evolution for future generations.  It also comes at a fortuitous time in the Museum's development as it is currently preparing to build a permanent home at "Mart 125," in Harlem, New York-the historic row in Upper Manhattan which stands directly across from the famed Apollo Theatre on Harlem's fabled 125th Street. The Museum plans to make the collection available to audiences at their current facility by appointment only, and through its September Tuesday evening Jazz For Curious Listeners and Saturday Panel series.  Check the Museum's website for more details. 

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem celebrates the neighborhood that has nurtured jazz and the many musicians that have lived and worked there. Duke Ellington, Benny Carter, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Count Basie, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday - all of their unique sounds reverberated throughout these fabled streets. Their legacy continues as the jazz musicians of today have also found a home in Harlem for their own contemporary sounds. The National Jazz Museum in Harlem is dedicated to fostering this spirit -the music as a living, breathing entity that looks as far into the future as it does into the past.

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