The Jazz Loft: Photos of a Lost New York

The Jazz Loft: Photos of a Lost New York

W. Eugene Smith was one of mid-century America’s greatest photojournalists; his work for Life Magazine during and after World War II made him rich and famous.  In 1957, Smith, 38, moved into a fourth-floor loft at 821 Sixth Avenue, near West 28th Street, in the heart of what was then Manhattan’s commercial flower market.  Over the next eight years, he shot over 1,000 rolls of film, many of them from his window, capturing a world in one block.

Many of those photographs can be found in Sam Stephenson’s recently published The Jazz Loft Project, which is equally devoted to Smith’s other passion, jazz.  As it happened, his next-door neighbor was composer-arranger Hall Overton, and Smith was letting him use his loft as a rehearsal space for some of the era’s great jazz musicians. Not only did Smith photograph the musicians, he wired the whole building for sound, hooked up several tape recorders, and let the spools spin till they ran out, recording everything from jam sessions to conversations in the hallway.

The first of the two videos below presents a number of photographs taken in and from the loft, accompanied by actual sounds captured by Smith’s tape recorders in the building.

The Jazz Loft: Photos of a Lost New York

The Jazz Loft Project: An Interview with Sam Stephenson

Slide Show: The Jazz Loft/Photos of a Lost New York

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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