Now in 2nd Edition! Many updates, corrections, additions.
Contents: Second Edition
PART I – Beginner’s Slopes
Overview of the Savoy Records label
Lubinsky, Reig, Mendelsohn and Cadena.
The Savoy Artist Roster
Van Gelder Engineering and Mastering
Collector Label Essentials
Blood red, maroon and oxblood
“For home use on phonograph”
“A Hi Fi Recording”
NR stamp and promo stamp
Savoy Cover Art
First Original and Second Covers
The Alternative Covers
Venture into Stereo
Record selling case study
Collectability of the Savoy Label
Reissues of Savoy Recordings: 1950s – 1960s – 1970s -1980s
Overseas Reissues: Decca London (late 50s) CBS Realm, Musidisc (’60s)
US: Clive Davis (Arista/ mid ’70’s)
US: Joe Fields (Muse/ mid ’80s)
FIELD GUIDE PART II – for Record Collectors, Deep Dive
Savoy Label Colour Guide – the blood red, maroon and oxblood
Pressing Dies – the deep groove, and not.
Back Cover – Savoy Company Addresses
Matrix Code and X20
FIELD GUIDE PART III – First Pressing Visual Reference sets
First Issue All Labels MG-12000 to MG-12200
My thanks to Chris B, Peter deJ, Aaron W and all who sent in helpful pictures to supplement those scraped from Discogs uploaders and Ebay auctions. Thanks also to commenter Boursin, whose encyclopaedic knowledge of music recording history has set me right on many points . All remaining errors, omissions and mis-spellings are my own.
© LondonJazzCollector 2017
PART I – An Overview of the Savoy Records label.
(For the full Savoy Discography see Ruppli and Porter ( CT Greenwood Press, 1980) 442 pages, a complete listings of every LP and EP issued by Savoy and its subsidiaries, and also all records leased or purchased by Savoy)
Savoy Label Overview
Moving Forces: Lubinsky, Reig, Mendelsohn and Cadena.
The Savoy record label was founded in Newark, New Jersey by Herman Lubinsky, a US-born son of Russian émigrés. Lubinsky was an early pioneer of community radio in Newark, who in 1942, founded Savoy Records to publish Jazz, Blues and Gospel music and he remained its sole proprietor.
The immediate post-war jazz direction of Savoy is credited to Teddy Reig, who recorded Parker and Gillespie for the new label, and capturing the new small-combo jazz called “Bop” as it emerged from the New York club scene. (Full story of Savoy Bop Years 1945-9 from the excellent Marc Myers here)
Another character who loomed large in the life of the Savoy label was Fred Mendelsohn, an entrepreneur, manager, A&R person, and salesman in the recording business. Mendelsohn had been operating a small New Jersey-based label, Regent, which in 1948 Lubinsky acquired a part interest. In 1953 he went to work for Lubinsky, initially for the label he had once owned, Regent, and in the end he became the President of Savoy. Mendelsohn was largely responsible for increasing Savoy’s portfolio of Gospel recordings, and produced sessions for Savoy in the late ’50s and ’60s. After Lubinsky’s death in 1974, Mendelsohn continued with Savoy, when Arista purchased the company from Lubinsky’s estate. More on label entrepreneur Mendelsohn here.
Ozzie Cadena initially worked at the Radio Record Shop owned by Herman Lubinsky in downtown Newark. He joined Savoy in 1954 as an in-house producer and A&R man, working closely with drummer Kenny Clarke to round up various groups of musicians for recording dates in the golden years up to 1959, eventually heading off to Prestige to replace Esmond Edwards.
Savoy starting out in the 10″ shellac 78rpm era – “Unbreakable Under Normal Use” – depending on what anyone considers “nomal” to mean.
Lubinsky fattened up his catalogue buying up defunct record labels and leasing recordings, as well as recording his own.
In the golden decade between 1955 and 1966 around 200 new jazz titles were issued on 12″ LP , less than half the output of Blue Note – three quarters issued in just the five years up to1960, hence the prevalence of deep groove amongst early original pressings, when deep groove was the norm.
As new Savoy jazz recordings slowed to a trickle, Savoy concentrated instead on its Gospel catalogue, and turned to reissuing its earlier jazz catalogue. More reissues appeared in the mid-’70s through Arista Records , and again in the mid ’80s when Joe Fields of Muse bought the catalogue from Arista. As a result, Savoy recordings are to be found in many later pressings spread over many decades, the more recent of which are often very poor: a collector minefield.
The Savoy Artist Roster
In 1955 Savoy kicked off its 12″ 12000 series with all the legends of bebop – Parker, Gillespie, Hawkins, Lester Young, Fats Navarro.
They made room for the new young blades, Coltrane, Art Pepper, Tubby Hayes, Yusef Lateef, Sahib Shihab and even the futuristic sound of Sun Ra, beamed direct from Saturn.
Taking the battle to the enemy, Savoy bagged some recordings from the up and coming Blue Note and Prestige roster: Coltrane, Mobley, Dexter, Don Byrd and Lee Morgan. Art direction had some way to go, no Reid Miles, just a rag-bag of good and not so good. The Mobley covers look like they were sponsored by a brand of pain-killers, Dexter is posed sitting motionless on a horse, not exactly the verb “riding”, but the Morgan is certainly exciting (and a very expensive record today!).
In the early ’60s Savoy still managed to produce a few strong albums of hard-driving instrumentalists like Booker Ervin, Bill Baron, Curtis Fuller, and a string of Yusef Lateef titles.
And in a surprising last wind in the late ’60s, at a time when the jazz audience was fast turning to jazz rock and soul jazz, Savoy bravely chanced their arm instead on the avant garde and free jazz genre. Marzette Watts Ensemble, Robert F. Pozar Ensemble…New Advanced Jazz….courageous!
Eclectic choice, something for everyone. It looks like Lubinsky’s business philosophy was to wager a small sum on every horse in the race and thus ensure picking a winner. Not recommended, I once tried this and was broke within a half-hour.
Savoy: Van Gelder Mastering
When he wasn’t recording sessions for Blue Note and Prestige, Rudy Van Gelder recorded artists for Savoy and other labels, a good number at Hackensack. Many Savoy LPs have Van Gelder as recording engineer and mastering engineer, and the RVG etched or stamped appears in the run-out. Some earlier ’40s recordings were re-mastered by Van Gelder, some recordings were first issued on 10″ and then reissued on 12″.
As regards the role of Rudy van Gelder, Pepper Adams in an interview in 1984 recalled a day recording at Hackensack, a snippet that I could not resist adding here:
The “jazz audiophile” should be wary of recordings made prior to the early ’50s, before the arrival of the new generation of tube condenser microphones such as the AKG C12 and Neumann U47. Whatever the merits of the music, very early jazz recordings sound boxed-in and compressed in comparison to the spine-tingling musicians-in-the-room presence achieved by Van Gelder’s close-miking at Hackensack.
The “blood red” label runs from 1956 until around 1961 and is the “original” first label on all titles up to around MG-12155. Beyond this, between 1961 and 1974, the maroon label was used for what few new titles were issued and reissues of earlier titles. The oxblood label came into use in the mid ’70s.
There are a few anomalies where records were released out of catalogue number sequence, and notably some Curtis Fuller titles that were not released for over a decade after recording (MG-12144 , MG-12164)
Colour fidelity varied between printers,, and the blood red can be a mid tone red or a darker red, but in both cases the vinyl should be deep groove. Some maroon labels are of a distinctly purplish hue.
Savoy Test Pressing
The only thing better sounding than a promo is a test pressing, of which maybe a dozen will have been made of each record in order to gain approval and sign-off by the artists. Very often, though not always, these test pressings are one side only, with a blank other side.
No indication of who pressed for Savoy – someone, anyone, everyone? A “Bestway” stamp has been seen on a later pressing. but information is in short supply. Abbey Mfg have been suggested, though I have not seen any AB etch or stamp on any thus far.
Savoy Promo copies
The best pressings are often (though not always) promos, first off the stampers, and usually carry the provenance of first original pressing. Many original pressings on Savoy have found their way to collectors in Japan, who revere the label as much as Blue Note. Savvy collectors there have amassed a huge proportion of Savoy promos, even distinguishing the different words and stamps used for promos.
“For home use on phonograph”
Somewhere along the line, a statement appeared at the bottom of the label rim of some Savoy labels (right below) – “NOT LICENSED FOR RADIO BROADCAST – FOR HOME USE ON PHONOGRAPH” – rubric found on Savoy’s 10″ 78’s.
Example: MG-12006 label without “Home Use” warning and with.
The “Home use” warning originated from the litigious climate in which copyright laws were being tested in various US courtrooms during the ’30s. The label statement asserted that the owner of the record was entitled to use the record only for home listening, and not radio broadcast or other public performance, text that was commonplace on 78s. Despite this warning, radio stations played what they pleased. The heart of the dispute was the demand by record labels and recording artists that radio stations should pay royalties each time their recording was broadcast. The countersuit argued that when someone bought a record, they “owned it” and were free to do whatever they wished with it, including play it over the radio.
All the majors were entangled in copyright related lawsuits and appeals in order to overturn unfavourable previous court decisions. Band-leaders busied themselves suing radio station owners, the fear being that “mechanical reproduction” would take away musician’s livelihood. Great time to be a lawyer. Smaller labels sent “promo” copies to radio station disc jockeys specifically for airplay to promote sales, and by the end of the ’40s the disc jockey “went from sued to wooed“. The book keepers were left with a different problem: keeping track of promotional copies, on which no sales tax was due, or royalties to be paid, as they were not “sold”. Great time to be an accountant.
The legal argument that won the day, in late 1940, was that playing a recording does not itself constitute “copying” that work, merely playing a copy of the original performance that had already been manufactured by the record company. Great time to be a radio station disc jockey. With the growth in sales of the phonograms for home-listening, the tantilizing prospect for artists became not a few cents from radio play but the potential rewards of a new phenomenon – a hit record.
None of which explains why Savoy revived “home use only” warning, a legal argument which had long since been lost. Another “unknown”, which in any event does not help in dating a pressing. I guess knowing it’s no help is at least something we know.
“A Hi Fi Recording”
The earliest labels printed include the text “A Hi Fi Recording” below the spindle hole and above the artist name. The reference to being “A Hi Fi Recording” eventually fell out of use but appears on the first issue of at least 100 titles. However there is always some uncertainty with Savoy.
The NR stamp, which is found on perhaps 10% of copies, probably means “Non Returnable” – a remaindered copy of an LP deeply discounted to clear stocks – so called “cut outs”. A surprisingly high proportion of Savoy records coming to auction are NR stamped label, not something seen with premium jazz labels like Blue Note or Prestige.
Savoy Cover Art
The great Burt Goldblatt designed many of the earliest Savoy 10″ line-drawing covers, and there are some later covers by the inimitable Harvey, but apart from that, pot luck, no house style, a hotch-potch of designs either uncredited, or credited to relatively unknown names including D. Picini Jr., Richard Corson, Castronovo, Harvey Ragsdale (Surf Ride,) Stephen Haas, Levy A. Agency, Lee J. Morton, and Irwin Goldstein. No, me neither.
The earliest Savoy 12″ titles have monochrome artist-performing photographic covers. They are out-numbered many times over by later coloured-added and alternative covers, usually but not always associated with maroon (’60s) and oxblood (’70s) labels and later back cover zip-code (after 1962) or P.O. Box address. However, never discount the possibility of a newer record packed in an older cover.
First Original and Second Covers
Original first covers were manufactured by a different method of construction compared to those manufactured subsequently, though the cover art itself, more often than not, remained the same. (We saw something similar in the way Blue Note covers evolved from the first 1956 “frame cover” construction.) Illustrated, two editions of MG-12133 Fats Navarro, left original, right, later reissue:
When viewed from the front, first Savoy covers appear “borderless”. The cover art paper was folded over the three closed edges of the jacket, overlapping the back, and the rear liner notes were pasted down on top of the overlap, Later, somewhere around 1962-3 / MG 12175/ (maroon label new issues and earlier title reissues), the reverse construction method was introduced. The liner notes were overlapped around the front closed edges of the jacket , and the cover art was pasted down on to the overlap on the front , leaving a white border showing on the top, bottom and left edges of the front cover.
Left, back of first cover with liner notes pasted on to overlapping front cover art. Right, later cover with front cover art pasted on to overlapping liner notes. And LP below MG-12175 with a cover with a white border around three sides of the front is of later manufacture. (Thanks to Chris B. for pictures)
The manufacture of covers for Savoy is of little account in establishing provenance, however there is the occasional clue, with a helpful copyright date:
Cover art touches all the bases, from the bland, crass, stylish and dramatic . Isn’t that Norvo cover great? Indeed I’ll take these three on the strength of their covers, each have a sense of “movement”.
Whilst rivals Blue Note and Prestige took their cover art seriously, Lubinsky was not above catching the eye of the bachelor demographic with a large serving of cheesecake. For the sound-engineer demographic, even slipped in a bonus Telefunken tube-mic .
Wholesome girls you could take home to meet mother, except perhaps the fireside flirt in the nightie (Mother! Is that you?!) You could probably take her home to meet Dad. Surrealist artist HARVEY also has these covers in the Savoy catalogue, also beautiful.
Colour was added later to many earlier monochrome covers, or an entirely different design or picture:
Illustrated below, mid-1950s through to 1970s Charlie Parker Memorial album and their respective colour labels:
Some covers went through a stretch of more creative repositioning, like MG 12017 Kenny Clarke’s Bohemia After Dark. Perhaps Café Bohemia wouldn’t pay for the Café Promotional cover, which reverted to the boys-in-the-band photo, and was eventually hijacked by a bizarre semi-nude cover with strategically placed “B” in Bohemia (where else?).
Savoy ventures into Stereo
Most early Savoy recordings were mono, but moved with the times to stereo as the rest of the industry. Examples are found of “ENHANCED STEREO” (fake stereo) like the reissue of The Immortal Charlie Parker.
Though Van Gelder recorded everything to two-track tape from 1958 on Savoy perhaps jumped the shark, put out a few stereo titles before the market was really ready for the new format, yielded disappointing sales, and lost heart. By the time stereo had become mainstream, in the early to mid ’60s, Savoy had changed musical direction. The whole Savoy stereo jazz catalogue amounted to just a dozen albums, five of which are missing below as no original stereo copy has ever appeared at auction.
SST-13000 Series – stereo versions of MG-12000 series material
13001 Salim, A. K. Blues Suite
13002 Harden, Wilbur Plays The King And I
13003 Donaldson, Bobby Dixieland Jazz Party
13004 Harden, Wilbur Jazz Way Out
13005 Harden, Wilbur Tanganyika Strut
13006 Fuller, Curtis Blues-ette
13007 Lateef, Yusef Dreamer
13008 Lateef, Yusef Fabric Of Jazz, The
13009 Wess, Frank Opus De Blues
13010 Fuller, Curtis Jazztet Feat. Benny Golson
13011 Fuller, Curtis Imagination
13012 Pizzarelli, Bucky Midnite Mood
A new label crafted from the blood red design graced the first stereo releases – pictured SST-13002 Wilbur Harden, deep groove (mono release MG-12134)
The stereo label was introduced with a first release in March 1959, but it was not to last long. Just a handful of copies of labels like 1 and 3 below are found, blood red and deep groove. Most stereo Savoy copies are much later reissues, with maroon or more often oxblood labels without deep groove. Label 2 below is maroon DG, post-dates label 1 for the same title, yet carries a promo stamp. Savoy was still plugging away to make a success of stereo through promotion, looks mid-’60s. As stereo became commonplace and the defacto release format, the stereo label itself became defunct, and later stereo reissues revert to the simple classic label without the word stereo on the label.
Stereo original editions are extraordinarily rare, some titles may never have reached production, and are found only as reissues on the French BYG label and Sony Japan.
To establish early provenance (’50s), check cover art (monochrome?), check cover manufacture (no white border), check label colour (red not maroon or oxblood), check back cover address (58 Market Street, no zip-code or P.O.Box), check everything. Savoy was chaotic, but keep a cool head and you can master it. Apply your new skills to the seller below offering an “Original 1st US pressing, maroon deep groove label” Apparently.
Like most things in life, It’s easy – when you know how.
Collectability of the Savoy Label
Only a small handful of Savoy titles have ever crossed the $1,000 line, which includes this exceptional item: Savoy US 928 (10″) Buzzy & Donna Lee by Charlie Parker, signed during the series of concerts in France in May 1949.
Of the rest, Curtis Fuller “Blues-ette” (MG 12141) reaches the dizzy heights of $800, keeping company with some Parker 10″ titles and the outrageously desirable Lee Morgan/Hank Mobley title “Introducing Lee Morgan” (MG-12091). Pretty quickly auction prices fall below the $500 line with Art Pepper’s Surf Ride (MG12089), and Hank Mobley’s Two Message titles (MG-12064 & 12092). Sun Ra Futuristic Sounds(MG 12169) rounds out the short list of most collectable titles. Thereafter, it is all the fun of the fair, some titles are very rare without being of musical interest, others offer some great music at a bargain price. I have my eye out for that Sahib Shihab Jazz Party MG-12169.
So in summary, a mostly inexpensive treasure chest of American jazz recordings jazz but a nightmare for the jazz collector, poorly documented, leaving the rest of us mostly groping around in the dark. They say, fools rush in so LJC takes his cue and limbers up. Now we go deep dive into the murky world of “original vinyl” and what collectors need to know. But first, a look at the possibilities in overseas issuesand later reissues.
Reissues of Savoy Recordings: 1950s – 1960’s – 1970s – 1980s.
Overseas Issues of Savoy Recordings
Europe and UK saw official licensed issues, in the ‘late ’50s on the Decca London American Crimson/ Silver label, LTZ-C (C = Savoy licenced code)
Between 1963 and 1970 around fifty of the two hundred Savoy Records jazz series were reissued in the UK on the CBS Realm label, with alternative covers, re-mastered from copy tape, mostly pressed at the CBS acquired Oriole plants.
In France, the equivalent programme was issued on Savoy Musidisc SA 6000 series, not a label I know much about, though quite commonly found. Difficult to determine year of manufacture – I have a Musidisc which is 1950’s deep groove, unlike the one pictured below. Alternative covers front and back.
Canada I will include with “overseas” territories as Canada today is more a state of mind, especially as it appropriated the name of my home city, London Savoy. Below, London Savoy label, Canada, has the “for Home Use” footer, possibly deep groove, if a contemporaneous release to the US, then 1957
The Japanese reissue history looks quite complex, a King Records Series in the 1980s, and Sony Japan, out of scope, perhaps for another day.
Later US Reissues of the Savoy Catalogue
By the mid-’70s Savoy Records had run its course, with Lubinsky’s death in March 1974. Former CBS executive Clive Davis had created Arista Records with funding from Columbia, and the following year in 1975 bought the Savoy Catalogue from Lubinsky’s estate. Arista reissued many Savoy recordings on a new Savoy Jazz Classics label, much like the Prestige OJC Original Jazz Classics brand. Music producer Bob Porter was brought in to produce many of these reissues.
The occasional Savoy Jazz Classics reissue series turns up re-mastered by the master, VAN GELDER. The original metal perhaps lost in the mists of time, Rudy was brought in to re-master from his own tapes (or copies of his original tapes, who knows).
This Sahib Shihab reissue bears the text “SJ Records, 160 West 71 Street, New York NY 10023 ©1984” and “Mastered by Van Gelder” in the run-out.
Arista reissues have proved a mixed bag on my turntable, Savoy re-issues should sound much better than they do, given access to original tapes, even the occasional one with a VAN GELDER stamp, perhaps things had moved on. Too many men in suits, not enough strange engineers creeping about in all- black outfits and black gloves. Bless you Rudy.
In the mid-’80s, Muse Records proprietor Joe Fields bought the Savoy catalogue, maintaining the Savoy Jazz “bunch of instruments” logo, and reverting to the earlier classic Savoy label design. Fields brought considerable scholarship to the catalogue, with fresh academic liner notes and carefully curated selections, and worthy but dull covers like the reissue of MG-12183 Bill Barron The Hot Line, left original, right SJL 1160.
I bought it and instantly regretted it. Audio quality of 80’s SJL issues is a long way from what is desired, not in line with that achieved for Muse itself. I suspect there were issues with the transfer of 25-30 year old Savoy tapes, or engineering not always what it should be despite a host of people credited:
1986 – more or less end of the line for vinyl. These mid-80s SJL reissues are among the worst sounding audio in my entire collection. Lifeless, tonally compressed, horrible, an ignoble end to a great label.
Waiting to be discovered is the untold story: what happened to Savoy’s Van Gelder masters after Lubinsky’s death? Arista and Muse may have bought the Catalogue of recordings, the rights, but what they produced in the way of vinyl shows no sign of original metal used for reissues. Everything was re-mastered. Badly. Even when, for the odd title, Van Gelder was brought back, he had to re-master himself. Someone didn’t know the importance of what they had, perhaps they were discarded, as scrap metal?
The British are coming!
I have only a couple of Savoy originals. The two albums of the Savoy catalogue that would take pride of place on my wall – if I could find the – Home Sweet Homeland, distant past. Eros, Piccadilly Circus, now daily occupied by a thousand youth on their school trip to London, staring intently at the screen of their mobile phones.
Amazing, Savoy released a Tubby Hayes and Dizzy Reece album I knew nothing of. Every write up repeats the same story, that you underpaid musicians. What is more telling is that you gave a whole lot of musicians a break who might not otherwise have got one, a shot at joining the big league. Lubinsky, I salute you.
DEEP DIVE: Savoy Records, Record Collectors Field Guide.
The auction description “original” is probably miss-applied more often with Savoy than better-defined ones. As with all other jazz labels of the golden era, the identification of provenance requires insight into label colour, run-out pressing die types, liner notes corporate address, cover lamination, matrix stamp, printed spines, any amount of detail. Provenance is sometimes obscured by the record company perhaps not wishing to identify reissues as such, and sellers taking advantage of the lack of information on date of manufacture, compounded by some very poor quality product photography that leaves buyers guessing.
Savoy Label Colour
Label colour description is essential, and language can be an unreliable friend. For many years the UK had pillar boxes for posting letters, and pillar-box red would be commonly understood, except in countries where post boxes are yellow. Using official naming conventions, defined by web screen colours or Pantone reference, there are these three basic colour Savoy labels: red (often referred to by collectors and sellers as “blood red”), maroon (sometimes wrongly described as red or blood red), and a brown which matches the Pantone reference descriptor oxblood red. Three issues of MG-12130 Dexter Rides Again, with their respective official colour swatch:
The red original ’50s is deep groove, the maroon is mainly ’60s, some deep groove early on but transitioned to the central disc impression. The oxblood which dates from the mid ’70s onward, is not deep groove.
For example MG-12127 “Mainstream 58” – Harden/Coltrane – is found on all three labels: the original 1958 and two subsequent reissues.
According to the year of first release, the prized “original” may not be on blood red label, or deep groove. The presence or absence of deep groove is probably the main arbiter between original and subsequent pressings.
Pressing dies and the deep groove (DG)
The impression left by the dies which held the stamper in the record press are the strongest clue to identifying the earliest Savoy pressings and distinguishing them from later reissues. The outer deep groove ring is the signature of 12″ LPs manufactured in the later half of the ’50s and early ’60s (though as always some exceptions). The die was modelled on that of 10″ shellac discs, widely used in most pressing plants, and were gradually phased out in the first half of the ’60s, replaced by dies which left much less significant trace.
1. Original deep groove, may be wide or narrow cut – mid/late ’50s up to 1961
2. Small circular central ring 1962-74 ( sometimes may be like 3 below)
3. Single-step outer pressing ring roughly aligned with the silver ring, possibly ’70s onwards?
Closer inspection of many auction photographs raised a suspicion that there was more than one type of deep groove die, not just the deep wide u-shaped “trench” (Type 1 below) , but a slim v-shaped cut , that according to the lighting appears more ambiguous (Type 2 below). Moreover the shade of blood red on Type 2 is visibly darker than the Type 1 label, which is more in keeping with the earliest pressings from 1956/7
My own copy of MG-12079 is definitely Type 2. On my original post of the Savoy Parker Story I had it down as non-DG. Time to get out the trusty macro and get in close (view at full screen to really get into the groove)
It is not the wide flat-bottom trench of Type 1, but neither is it the familiar single step-down of later die impressions. Catching the light and shadow reveals a different type of deep groove, which I name Type 2. Viewed in flat lighting (below), it is less obviously deep groove, cutting in and out of different sections of the silver outer circle.
For comparison, here is a maroon non-DG in 45 degree side profile. The more modern pressing die has left a mere single step ring
The etchings contain a give-away date – 4/73 and no RVG in the deadwax, so the maroon label may have stretched from the mid ’60s to the early ’70s, before the oxblood red label was introduced.
According to Discogs this title is a 1955 recording on the Signal label (S-101) reissued by Savoy in 1959. May be, but this maroon label looks a lot later than 1959 and the dead-wax etching “4-73” suggests otherwise. Discogs is a useful collector/seller guide but not necessarily always accurate. Most Discogs entries for Savoy on maroon and oxblood labels are dated “Unknown”.
Back Cover Savoy Company Address
Unlike Blue Note and Prestige, for whom company address changes were clearly delineated, there seems little consistency in the display of Savoy’s company address, to which record collectors could write for the catalogue. Most helpful to have evidence from promos to link the cover to early release.
At the outset Savoy had a definitive early address, 58 Market Street, accompanying titles released in the halcyon years 1956-7, a hundred or so titles accompanied by blood-red labels with deep groove. Note very early on, the absence of incorporation in the company name – “Savoy Record Company” – no Inc., but added soon after.
58 Market Street, Newark, N.J.
Dyslexic printer or renting extra space up the street, an 85 Market Street address appears (hat-tip Aaron):
Seemingly at randomly across the decade, some with blood red DG, some maroon, other times with oxblood labels, a generic Savoy company address with a variety of address forms:
SAVOY RECORD CO. INC., NEWARK, N.J.
also seen as earlier NEWARK 1, N.J.
and NEWARK, NEW JERSEY
Into the ’70s with oxblood label and no deep groove, we find a different address, 56 Ferry Street, with an a request to enclose a 25c coin for postage. The address has an a five digit zip-code. Five-digit ZIP Codes were introduced by the US Postal Service on July 1, 1963.The 56 Ferry Street address is known to be in use by Savoy in the early ’70s
56 Ferry Street, Newark, N.J. 07106
Towards the end of 12000 series, around 12200, a P.O.Box address with five-digit zip-code appears for catalogue requests, also associated with ’70s oxblood labels and no DG:
P.O.Box 1000, Newark, N.J. 07101
The 58 Market Street address seems definitively associated with early issues of titles. The address changed over time, notably following the introduction of postal codes by USPS. A 5-digit postcode dates the cover as after 1963. New titles in the 12000 series continued to be released by Savoy up until at least 1969. The generic company address may be original or reissue, and the label itself is more helpful.
Case Study: MG 12046, MJQ The Quartet
Update: Did half the MJQ forget to pick up their suits from the dry cleaners?
Well spotted, chaps. Further research corrects the previous sequence below.
Monochrome 1st cover: two suits, blood red label and Type 1 deep groove, 58 Market Street address.
Coloured 2nd cover: four suits, darker red label still deep groove type 2, Newark 1, N.J. address.
Third cover: poor colour fidelity, oxblood label, no deep groove, P.O.Box 1000 address
One cannot but help feel Savoy were half-hearted about collectors requests for catalogues, and aside from Market Street and Ferry Street, changes were driven by the evolution of US postal service zip-codes and a lax approach to naming conventions and consistency. Some times it’s New Jersey, others it’s N.J., sometimes it’s in upper case, other times in proper case. Perhaps it didn’t matter much.
Matrix Code: X20
Matrix code: hand-etched or machine stamped X20 code, adjacent to the stamped matrix code point of changeover undetermined, significance, unknown:
According to Japanese collectors with many Savoy titles, both the X20 and RVG transition at some stage from hand-etch to machine stamp. What X20 means is anyone’s guess, it is also found on the matrix of Savoy 10″ 78s, but it is a point of detail which matters little since they all have it.
There are both laminated and unlaminated covers which possibly have a chronology, but with too few samples, merely to speculate:
UNFINISHED BUSINESS: GUIDE TO SAVOY FIRST PRESSINGS
Example of how our friends in Japan catalogue the features of individual titles, in the manner of Cohen for Blue Note. As I own just one original Savoy, I am not about to go into this depth, but I salute those who do:
RVGe: handwritten RVG stamp
RVGs: Machine RVG Marking
X20e: Handwritten X20 mark
X20s: machine X20 stamp
lam: Coating available
non-lam: no coating
12017 Red-NLF, RVGe, DG, X20s, flat / 58Mar, lam, paste
12019 Red,RVGe,DG,X20s,GG/58Mar,lam 12019 Red, RVGe, DG, X 20 s, GG / 58 Mar, lam
12029 Red,RVGe,DG,X20s,flat/58Mar,lam 12029 Red, RVGe, DG, X 20 s, flat / 58 Mar, lam
12036 Red,RVGe,DG,X20s,GG/58Mar,lam(title-white) 12036 Red, RVGe, DG, X 20 s, GG / 58 Mar, lam (title-white)
12073 Red,RVGe,DG,X20s,GG/NJ,lam 12073 Red, RVGe, DG, X 20 s, GG / NJ, lam
12083 Red,RVGe,DG,X20s,GG/NJ,lam 12083 Red, RVGe, DG, X 20 s, GG / NJ, lam
12091 Red,RVGe,DG,X20s,GG/NewJer,lam 12091 Red, RVGe, DG, X 20 s, GG / NewJer, lam
12092 Red,RVGe,DG,X20s,GG/NJ,lam 12092 Red, RVGe, DG, X 20 s, GG / NJ, lam
12141 Red,RVGs,DG,GG/NewJer,non-lam,paste 12141 Red, RVGs, DG, GG / NewJer, non-lam, paste
12143 Red,RVGs,DG,X20e,GG/NJ,non-lam,paste 12143 Red, RVGs, DG, X 20 e, GG / NJ, non-lam, paste
More from Japanese jazz collector and Savoy Guru, BassClef
LJC FIELD GUIDE II – VISUAL REFERENCE TO THE LABEL BY TITLE
SECOND EDITION (November 8, 2017)
All new tables with many corrections and substitutions thanks to readers posting in photos. Also extended up to from 12175 (1963) to 12200 (1969), but ends there, as beyond 12200 are mostly a handful of reissues from the Regent Label impossible to find as Savoy copies, and little of musical interest.
Not all labels could be found, and some element of guesswork from those found as to which is the earliest, which is the main aim, however there is now continuity in the blood-red deep groove, and a transition to the maroon label.
The Savoy Jazz series continues intermittently beyond here (1962-1973, catalogue numbers MG-12200 – 12230 or thereabouts ) but now a chaotic label, few new recordings, planned releases not issued, compilations unable to get all the rights sorted out, some titles with negligible sales. The maroon label and its successor the oxblood is all that can be found, and grooveless reissues on blood red labels muddy the waters. Often sellers offer only a tiny cover picture with the vinyl poking out, little return on further research effort, so this guide ends here. On the plus side, some of the cover art is great!.
There is very little original research on Savoy, mostly cut and paste text from Wiki and text-based Discography, couple of Vinylbeat label pictures, nothing for collectors to get their teeth into. Probably a lot of corrections are needed, I’ve learned a lot in the process, let’s get the Savoy Party started. Kick-ass, great music here, get your vinyl out.
If you have found something that doesn’t look right, say it, I’ll sort it.
Any thought on Savoy? The floor is yours.