Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Jazz Loft Project

Once upon a time there was a really incredible documentary magazine called DoubleTake. Issue 18 had Zoot Sims on the cover and an accompanying story entitled, “Nights of Incandescence” about the loft W. Eugene Smith had in New York in the 50’s and 60’s. Sadly, DoubleTake is no more, but that cover story grew into The Jazz Loft Project. Currently on exhibition at the gorgeous but labyrinth-like Chicago Cultural Center until September 19th.

“From 1957 to 1965, [photographer W. Eugene] Smith exposed 1,447 rolls of film at the loft, making roughly 40,000 pictures, the largest body of work in his career. He photographed the nocturnal jazz scene as well as life on the streets of the flower district, as seen from his fourth-floor window. He wired the building like a surreptitious recording studio and made 1,740 reels (4,000 hours) of stereo and mono audiotapes, capturing more than 300 musicians, among them Roy Haynes, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Roland Kirk, Alice Coltrane, Don Cherry, and Paul Bley. He also recorded legends such as pianists Eddie Costa, and Sonny Clark, drummers Ronnie Free and Edgar Bateman, saxophonist Lin Halliday, bassist Henry Grimes, and multi-instrumentalist Eddie Listengart. Also dropping in on the nighttime scene were the likes of Doris Duke, Norman Mailer, Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Salvador Dalí, as well as pimps, prostitutes, drug addicts, thieves, photography students, local cops, building inspectors, marijuana dealers, and others.”

I went yesterday and it was amazing. If you live in Chicago and have an interest in photography and/or jazz, it is not to be missed!

The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821 Sixth Avenue, 1957-1965David X. Young's Jazz Loft: 1954-1965

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