The Jazz Loft Project

From 1957-1965 W. Eugene Smith, a prolific American photographer, documented New York jazz musicians in his small loft and ended up with 4,000 hours of audio and 40,000 photographs. His dilapidated loft in the wholesale flower district was the place for late-night jam sessions for Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Steve Reich, Zoot Sims, Roland Kirk, and Alice Coltrane. He also recorded drug addicts, neighborhood cops, radio programs about aliens, MLK and JFK on the radio, James Baldwin and Frank Lloyd Wright in interviews. When Smith died, he accumulated 1,740 reels of tape. Below are some of his photos and tape boxes from his collection.

The Jazz Loft Project has done a great job archiving and sharing this extraordinary moment in American history.  WNYC radio did a ten-part series telling the story of W. Eugene Smith and the jazz loft with rare recordings and intriguing stories from friends and family. NPR just started a four-part series on the jazz loft and will continue to air stories every Sunday in December.


Also worth checking: Jazzin the Black Forest – The Complete Guide to Saba/MPS Jazz Records .

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