Jazz legends in perfect action

This digital release is a highly anticipated one for the swing-era fans, containing some landmark live recordings from the greatest names in jazz.

The collection, bought by the National Jazz Museum In Harlem in 2010, is named after sound engineer William Alcott Savory, who recorded almost 1,000 discs of radio broadcasts in the 1930s and 1940s.

Given the recordings' origin, be prepared for lots of hisses, crackling and pops despite the digitisation efforts.

Minor technical quibbles aside, this first volume of a series is bound to make swing fans very happy.

  • JAZZ


    National Jazz Museum In Harlem Apple Music

    5/5 stars

Saxophonist Coleman Hawkins rightly gets top billing because he opens the album with a stunning version of his legendary take on Body And Soul. This almost-six- minute-long version came just seven months after his landmark recording of the song and features the tenor saxophonist at the peak of his form, in a rangy, relaxed solo.

There are also live performances from pianist Fats Waller and vibraphonist Lionel Hampton. Waller's signature suggestive banter is a ribald contrast to his sweet playing, while the track Blues offers a rare chance to hear Hampton's rather sleepy singing style.

There are also two tracks by Ella Fitzgerald - A-Tisket, A-Tasket and I've Been Saving Myself For You - where the singer's youthfulness gives the tunes an appealing naivete.

What is truly remarkable about these live recordings is the length of some of the takes. Hampton's Blues runs to almost 10 minutes and Hawkins' Basin Street Blues clocks in at almost six minutes. They are great ways to hear how these jazz legends, at their professional peaks, extemporised in live performances.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2016, with the headline 'Jazz legends in perfect action'. Print Edition | Subscribe