Nippon Now Stompin’ at the Savoy


The catalogue of the Savoy jazz label, which contains thousands of classic performances, many by Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, J. J. Johnson and Miles Davis, has been sold by New York-based S. J. Records to Nippon Columbia of Japan. The recently completed sale marks the first time a U.S. strictly jazz label has been acquired by a Japanese firm.

“It all happened very quickly, within a month,” said Barney Fields, a spokesman for Muse Records, of which S. J. Records was a subsidiary. “All the acetate (discs, onto which pre-1950 Savoy jazz sessions were directly recorded) and tapes are in their possession. They could start to issue stuff right away.”

Nippon Columbia, which owns the Denon jazz and classical line that is distributed in the United States by Polygram Records, plans to wait at least six to eight months before making any releases, said Jennifer Phelps, national jazz promotion director for Denon.

“It will be a while, because whatever is going to be released needs to be cleaned up,” Phelps said, referring to the removal of surface noises from the original master material. No titles have as yet been selected for the initial releases, she added.

Phelps said that it has not been decided what the new label will be called but that “the Savoy name will be included so people will know what it is, and it will be distributed worldwide,” she said. It is expected that the future releases will include original cover art and liner notes and that many previously unreleased tracks will be made available.


Phelps cited strong international interest in American jazz classics and a growing American jazz market as reasons for acquiring the label.

Club Crawl: The Manhattan Transfer, the Grammy-winning vocal quartet known for its appealing jazz and pop forays, makes an unadvertised jaunt into At My Place in Santa Monica on Thursday, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Information: (213) 451-8596. . . . Jazz and performance artists will co-mingle in “Tremors,” a series of Sunday shows at 8 p.m. at the Daniel Saxon Gallery Theater in Los Angeles that spotlights keyboardist Don Preston’s quartet--Bunk Gardner (woodwinds), Ken Filiano (bass), Fritz Wise (drums)--and guest artists. Sunday: ex-Doors trapsman John Densmore and Judith Malina, co-founder of the Living Theater. Information: (213) 933-5282, (213) 207-4380. . . . Bassist Luther Hughes, whose contemporary group, Cahoots, is spotlighted on the new “Perfect Partners” (ITI) release, continues to regularly front the house band at El Matador in Huntington Beach. He’s there with Cahoots tonight and Saturday, then steps aside when Poncho Sanchez and Joey Sellers’ Jazz Aggregation arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Hughes is back Thursday with trumpeter Tony Guerrero and Crusaders saxman Wilton Felder, March 22 and 23. Information: (714) 646-0271. On Tuesday, Hughes takes Cahoots into LeCafe in Sherman Oaks. Information: (818) 986-2662. . . . Pianist/singer Steve Ferguson doles out swing tunes from the ‘20s to the ‘40s in a six-week Fridays-only stand at 72 Market in Venice, starting tonight at 10:30. There’s no cover. Information: (213) 392-8720.