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The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes…

The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821…

by Sam Stephenson

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This is one of the most interesting and amazing books on jazz, photography, or any subject, that I have ever come across. How Sam Stephenson managed to sift through so much material and distill it to a reasonable amount that could fit in a book, 250-odd pages that captures what feels like the essence of a fascinating time and place, is a miracle. Spending time with this book feels like visiting that scene.

It took it slow reading the book as I savoured and re-read each page before moving on to the next. Once done I visited the web site (and subscribed to the blog) which has more material, more stories, news, interviews, and about an hour of sounds and music (with more coming, apparently). The book lives on, on the web.

http://www.jazzloftproject.org/ ( )
  bnation | Apr 28, 2013 |
Reviewed by Mr. Overeem (Language Arts)
A coffee table book with a difference. This book chronicles the obsessive "life recordings" ace photojournalist Gene Smith made during his residence in an "earthy" Manhattan loft between 1957 and 1965, using not only photography but also ROUND-THE-CLOCK tape recording. The data? Enough to fill over 650 CDs. This might not seem interesting until you realize that the loft was also the favorite jamming spot of New York's greatest jazz musicians (including Thelonious Monk), and that Smith recorded television and radio programs like they just don't broadcast anymore. ( )
1 vote HHS-Staff | Jan 22, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307267091, Hardcover)

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

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Thelonious Monk and his Town Hall band in rehearsal, February 1959. Zoot Sims (ca. 1957-1964). Loft interior, fifth floor (ca. 1964).

The northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and 28th Street (ca. 1957-1964). White Rose Bar sign from the 4th floor window of 821 Sixth Avenue (ca. 1957-1964). W. Eugene Smith at 4th floor window of 821 Sixth Avenue (ca. 1957).
(Photos credit W. Eugene Smith. Collection Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona. © The Heirs of W. Eugene Smith)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:46 -0400)

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