Saturday, November 13, 2010

Man of Sound Mind

The man in all the tape is the late Bill Savory, recording engineer, jazz enthusiast and creator of a fascinating and important archive of jazz airchecks. Unknown photographer
Earlier this year, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, New York, acquired a fabled trove of recordings made from radio broadcasts originally aired in the 1930s. The collection was long rumored to exist but its whereabouts was unknown until recently. Now the collection of William Savory – a Columbia recording engineer with an enthusiasm for recording live jazz – is in good hands and is slated to be made available to the public (assuming copyright issues can be resolved). Savory recorded radio broadcasts at 33-1/3 rpm using huge 16-inch discs and was thus able to capture extended performances at a time when conventional technology limited jazz pieces to three minutes. A fine pianist in addition to everything else, Savory was a big fan of Benny Goodman's, and was responsible for transferring BG's famed Carnegie Hall concerts to LP in 1953. The gag photo above was taken right around the time he was working on the project. Savory was such a fan of Benny's, he eventually married Goodman's vocalist, Helen Ward. He died in 2004.

To learn more about the archive and about Savory, visit the National Jazz Museum.

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