The 4 CD set Stompin' At The Savoy: The Original Indie-Label 1944-1961
is one of the most significant reissues in recent memory, presenting a unique window into the genesis of early Rhythm & Blues and Rock-n-Roll that has too long been closed. Savoy Records was the imprimatur of Lithuanian immigrant Herman Lubinsky during the lean years of World War Two into the heady days of the Cold war. Best known for its trove of Charlie Parker recordings, the label recorded countless other significant performers from the concentric circles of Jazz, Blues, R&B and early Rock. This collection restores to general circulation 84 rare recordings from such greats as Hot Lips Page, Dexter Gordon, Johnny Otis & Big Maybelle, among many others. And sometimes the biggest names aren't even the ones that made the label; backing musicians playing on some of these sessions include Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie and, in his first recorded session on Hal Singer's recording of "Corn Bread," Wynton Kelly.
Though several of the performances reissued here attained top ten status, Savoy's continued independence through the years from major label ownership has probably insured that they have since lingered in obscurity, known only to collectors and those who were around the first time. Stompin' At The Savoy
rights the situation for a 21st Century audience, presenting anew such significant, influential and, most importantly, happening records as Page's "Uncle Sam Blues," Billy Eckstine's version of "Prisoner of Love," Johnny Otis and Little Esther's "Double Crossing Blues" and Nappy Brown's "The Night Time," as well as early recordings from Brownie McGhee recorded prior to his successful run with Sonny Terry and a pair featuring The Robins, later known to Rock-n-Roll fans as The Coasters.
And that's really just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on all day explicating all 84 tracks on this fascinating collection, but Savoy Jazz and liner note writer Colin Escott already did a pretty good job of that in the booklets that accompany the discs. So let me finish by saying that this reissue is a major event for scholars of American popular music, a really important document of the history of early Rock and R&B. None of which, you know, should keep you from dancing when you hear it.