In this episode, thanks to W. Eugene Smith's tape recorders, we get to experience something audiences rarely hear - the unrehearsed, imperfect, open-ended, overlong, rough-around-the-edges music that jazz players made when they got together to jam at 821 Sixth Avenue. No audience present. Just the musicians playing.
The late vibes player Teddy Charles said it best in an interview:
When nobody's around, and you're just by yourself, that's when the best jazz happens. Really incredible stuff. You take chances on things. The real excitement of jazz is taking chances. Whether you make it or not. You try for something even if it doesn't happen. And that's what makes Jazz really exciting.
Featured in this episode are jam sessions with:
1 - Dave McKenna, piano; Fred Greenwell, sax; Bill Takas, bass; Ron Free, drums
2 - Bill Potts, piano; Zoot Sims, tenor sax; Ron Free, drums
3 - Paul Bley, piano; Jimmy Stevenson, bass; Roland Alexander, tenor sax; Eddie Listengart, trumpet; Lex Humphries, drums
4 - Sonny Clarke, piano; other unidentified players
5 - Chick Corea, piano; Jimmy Stevenson, bass; Joe Hunt, drums
This is a slightly updated version of The Jazz Loft Radio Series, which first aired on WNYC in November in 2009, in conjunction with Sam Stephenson’s book “The Jazz Loft Project." We are re-distributing the entire series now on the occasion of the release of Sara Fishko's documentary, "The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith," which debuted at the New Orleans Film Festival in October of 2015.
Thanks to the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, our original partner in the production of The Jazz Loft Radio Series.
The Jazz Loft Radio Series was supported in part by a grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities; and by an award from The National Endowment for the Arts.