7:15 pm | $7/$5 members
Between 1957 and 1965 in New York, dozens of jazz musicians jammed night after night in a dilapidated Sixth Avenue loft, not realizing that much of what they played and said to each other was being captured on audio tape and in still pictures by the gentle and unstable genius, the celebrated former LIFE Magazine photographer W. Eugene Smith, who lived in the loft space next door. By the end of the period, he had collected an astonishing 4,000 hours of audio tape and 40,000 photographs.
The film includes portraits of the arranger and composer Hall Overton and the protean saxophonist Zoot Sims. The rise and fall of Ron Free, a jazz drummer from the South, is largely related by Mr. Free himself. Thelonious Monk rehearses for his celebrated 1959 big-band concert at Town Hall–laid out in thrilling detail in the last third of the movie. The 50s give way to the 60s; Smith begins to record his own phone calls and visits from the local police; the world changes—and Smith gets evicted.
New York Times reviewer Glenn Kenny writes: “The bohemian paradise of this environment had a dark side, and the movie doesn’t give it short shrift. Nevertheless, a genuine exhilaration holds throughout. You can tell that the interviewees who weren’t there (including the contemporary jazz pianist Jason Moran and Ben Ratliff, a former music critic for The New York Times) dearly wish they could have been. “
Written, Produced and Directed by Sarah Fishko, the film began as a celebrated radio series on WNYC—which Ms. Fishko also co-produced. It was the first project to “mine” the enormous W. Eugene Smith Archives.
The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith will be the 24rd film in Rosendale Theatre’s on-going curated Music Fan Film Series, unique in the Hudson Valley.
The series has presented documentaries, feature films and concert films, ranging from the classic Ornette Coleman film Made in America, to The Wrecking Crew, Amy, The Amazing Nina Simone, and Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years, which drew a sold-out audience to Rosendale Theatre.