WNYC’s Sara Fishko has been listening to some new, old recordings--which have just been unearthed. She has this Fishko Files report.
You can purchase Jazzhaus recordings here.
From 1957 to 1965, the master photographer W. Eugene Smith had a studio and darkroom in a dilapidated building on 6th Avenue north of 28th street in Manhattan. The Jazz Loft, as it became known, had already become a favored spot for jam sessions by hundreds of jazz players of the day. During his years there, Smith became obsessed with the goings-on in the building, musical and otherwise, and he taped and photographed them with an unimaginable thoroughness, capturing thousands of hours of sound as well as tens of thousands of images. The sounds and stories that emerged from those years are the basis for The Jazz Loft Anthology, a ten-part radio series now heard across four one-hour programs.
Hear the whole story of the Jazz Loft years in The Jazz Loft Anthology.
For rights reasons, these programs are only available for streaming online.
The first hour of The Jazz Loft Anthology introduces the incredible Loft story – beginning with Eugene Smith, the famed Life photographer, who documented the life lived within the Loft. We hear extended selections from the tapes themselves: Smith’s recorded conversations, discussion between Zoot Sims and Jimmy Stevenson, Roland Kirk revealing his aspirations within mic-shot, and a lonely night when nothing was happening, but the tape was still rolling!
This hour of The Jazz Loft Anthology takes a closer look at the musicians who lived and played within the Loft. First, admiration and love for Hall Overton spills out of those who remember him. Overton taught countless students in the Loft, where he lived for a time, ignoring musical boundaries to teach both classical and jazz (the classical musicians appreciated his spontaneity; the jazz players admired his training and skill). From there, we hear from the musicians who eked out a living in and around The Jazz Loft, nursing a Coke for hours so they could hear their colleagues play on 52nd Street. Musicians Teddy Charles, Jim Hall, Bill Crow, Dick Katz, and Phil Woods idolized the Loft musicians, only to eventually have their lives become entwined with their heroes --- both in and outside of the Loft.
Hour Three of The Jazz Loft Anthology backs away from the specific tales of the Loft musicians to look at the overall picture of the musical landscape of the time and the Flower District itself. We learn how this non-residential neighborhood bustled furiously during the day and emptied out after 6pm, leaving the night wide open for music-making of all kinds without complaint. We hear from people whose businesses were near the Loft, and also from the musicians who came and went. Later on in the hour, The “Crown Jewels” of the Smith tapes: the arranging and rehearsal sessions spanning a three-week period in 1959 when Thelonious Monk and Hall Overton were preparing the Monk Big Band for the February Town Hall concert. And finally, we hear even more selections of tape from The Jazz Loft.
Hour four of The Jazz Loft Anthology features extended listening to notable jam sessions from within the Loft, with Zoot Sims, Sunny Clarke, Chick Corea, and Dave McKenna.
WNYC Production Credits for Real Live Jazz...
Mix Engineer: Paul Schneider
Associate Producer: Laura Mayer
Enterprise Editor, WNYC News: Karen Frillmann