- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (November 24, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307267091
- ISBN-13: 978-0307267092
- Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 1 x 11.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821 Sixth Avenue, 1957-1965 Hardcover – November 24, 2009
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2009: Like the American Renaissance of Emerson, Hawthorne, Dickinson, Thoreau, and Melville bursting out of the Massachusetts countryside a hundred years before, the legend of the New York jazz scene in the late 1950s and early '60s, when singular geniuses like Monk, Coltrane, Davis, Mingus, and Evans might be gigging on the same night--sometimes on the same stage--only grows with time. Now, in The Jazz Loft Project, we have a rare and remarkable window into that moment. The project is the fruit of two obsessed men, W. Eugene Smith, the brilliant photographer who shot thousands of pictures and recorded thousands of hours of music and talk at his Midtown apartment and studio, which served as an open-door meeting place and jam session site for hundreds of musicians and artists; and Sam Stephenson, the documentarian who has spent even longer archiving and investigating the riches Smith left behind. Among its many wonders, what their book does best is put the creations of those bebop geniuses in context: giving life to the forgotten players who jammed with the future immortals, revealing the casual crosspollination among artists, musicians, and writers (and between blacks and whites), and reminding us of the world outside the loft, with baseball, UFO stories, and civil rights on the radio and the daily commerce of New York's flower district on the street below. --Tom Nissley
Look Inside The Jazz Loft Project Click on thumbnails for larger images
(Photos credit W. Eugene Smith. Collection Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona. © The Heirs of W. Eugene Smith)
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. After having a breakdown in the midst of working on a photo-essay on Pittsburgh in 1957, legendary photographer W. Eugene Smith holed up in a loft in New York's Chelsea, in the Tin Pan Alley area. There, over the next several years, he became deeply embroiled in the New York City jazz scene, opening his home as a practice and performance space for some of the great artists of mid-century jazz, including Thelonious Monk, Zoot Sims and many others. Of course, he took pictures—both of musicians and of a window-size view of mid-century New York—and also wired the place for recording, logging hours and hours of tape, capturing the music and the talk around it. These photos and tapes had been thought lost—the stuff of rumor, buried in Smith's archive—until Stephenson dug them out and culled the best, along with transcriptions of material from the tapes, for this landmark book. Smith's stunning use of contrast makes figures like Monk seem dramatic and completely ordinary at the same time. The photos of the city offer a rare glimpse into a neighborhood being itself when it thought no one was watching. This will be an essential book for jazz fans, photography lovers and those interested in the history of New York. (Nov.)
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Joe Farrell, Gil Coggins, Bill Crow, Don Ellis, Ronnie Free, Lin Halliday, Freddy Greenwell, Dave McKenna, Freddie Redd, Wilbur Ware, Bill Evans, Henry Grimes,Bill Takas,Jimmy Raney, Jim Hall. This is,of course, just a partial list of participants. It should be noted that Monk was there mainly to rehearse and prepare for the famous 1959 Town Hall concert. The photographic collection showed many pictures of musicians but also included shots taken from the loft window of various street activities. The tapes included not only musical performances but as well some taped radio and tv shows and some conversations taped between people in the loft. Particularly I enjoyed the one between tenorist Lin Halliday and pianist Sonny Clark. Some of the tapes can be heard on the Jazz Loft web site and some can be heard on the WNYC web site. It would be nice if they could be edited and in part released as a CD set. The book is of tabletop size and weighs in at nearly four pounds. Get it.
Cudos to Mr. Stephenson for saving, cataloging, and compiling this enormous amount of important information about two of our greatest art forms, photography and jazz.
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