This December, Hang Out At The Fabled Jazz Loft In the New York of the 1950s and '60s, a loft building on Sixth Avenue in the heart of the flower district became an insider's spot for artists and jazz musicians. They played music and hung out there for years, and because of one man, tape recorders were running practically the whole time. The man was photographer W. Eugene Smith. Coming up in December, Weekend Edition begins a series revealing some of the sounds and stories that have emerged from Smith's huge project.
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This December, Hang Out At The Fabled Jazz Loft

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This December, Hang Out At The Fabled Jazz Loft

This December, Hang Out At The Fabled Jazz Loft

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(Soundbite of music)

JACKI LYDEN, host:

In the New York of the 1950s and '60s, a loft building on 6th Avenue in the heart of the flower district became an insider spot for artists and jazz musicians in Manhattan. They played music and hung out there for years. And because of one man, tape recorders were running practically the entire time.

The man was photographer W. Eugene Smith. Coming up in December here on WEEKEND EDITION, we begin a series revealing some of the sounds and stories that has emerged from Smith's enormous project. He captured conversations and jam sessions among famous musicians, such as Thelonious Monk and Zoot Sims.

(Soundbite of music)

LYDEN: W. Eugene Smith also recorded meowing cats, running water, phone calls and other more mundane signs of everyday life. He and a number of others were living at the loft, and at one point his tape machines were running as a local cop came by to see what was going on up there.

Unidentified Man: Why do you got the tape recorder going for?

Mr. W. EUGENE SMITH (Photographer): Well, because my cat was chasing a mouse, and I was recording the cat chasing the mouse.

Unidentified Man: And what happened?

Mr. SMITH: The goddamn mouse got away.

Unidentified Man: Christ, how much electrical stuff do you got here? What, are they all speakers? One, two, three, four.

LYDEN: Next week, we'll begin our four-part exploration of this story building with an introduction to The Jazz Loft Project Radio Series, produced by WNYC and reporter Sara Fishko in association with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

(Soundbite of music)

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