Archive for October, 2011

Harold Feinstein’s Coney Island

Harold Feinstein.  Photo by Judith Thompson.

Harold Feinstein. Photo by Judith Thompson.

The New York Times’ LENS blogger Evan Sklar posted a good write-up on Harold’s Coney Island work today, with a slide show of images.  Harold was one of the original residents of 821 Sixth Avenue in the “jazz loft” era, moving into the building in 1954.  As the Times’ blog indicates, Harold’s Coney Island work is hugely valuable and deserves more attention.


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Richard Rothman’s Redwood Saw


I want to alert you to a new book by the outstanding photographer Richard Rothman of NYC.  It’s called Redwood Saw and Richard will have a signing at ICP next week.  More information about the signing can be found on ICP’s site.

Richard figures into my story in a unique way.  15-16 years ago I had visions of collaborating with a photographer on my own book about Pittsburgh.  Then I stumbled on Gene Smith’s unfinished Pittsburgh in January 1997 and here I am today, still working on Smith.  My Smith work began with a relatively benign piece for DoubleTake magazine and I wasn’t looking beyond that assignment.  On my first or second trip out to Smith’s archive at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, CCP had an exhibition that included a number of prints by Robert Adams from his West from the Columbia series.  I was stunned by those prints.  I wrote Adams a letter and asked him if he’d collaborate with me on a book about Pittsburgh.  He responded kindly, saying he might have done it two or three decades earlier but he was now rooted on the coast of Oregon.  Instead, he recommended Richard Rothman.  He said Richard was one of the great landscape photographers of today.  Richard and I soon met in Brooklyn and we began pondering how to pull off something together.  Meanwhile my DoubleTake article on Smith’s Pittsburgh project was a success and it grew into Dream Street. I learned about Smith’s loft tapes and things took off.  I never returned to the original Pittsburgh idea.

But I’d still like to work with Richard on something one day. I saw early sequences of images from Redwood Saw and they were awesome.


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Quote of the Day


Photographer David Simonton sent in this quote, which comes from Michael Ondaatje’s new novel, and was published in Janet Maslin’s review of the novel in today’s New York Times:

“There is a story, always ahead of you. Barely existing. Only gradually do you attach yourself to it and feel it. You discover the carapace that will contain and test your character. You find in this way the path of your life.” —Michael Ondaatje, The Cat’s Table.

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JLP Event w/ Ron Free Trio in Salisbury, NC

Sam Stephenson and the Ron Free Trio (with Royce Campbell on guitar, Bob Bowen on bass) will appear in Salisbury, NC on Thursday October 13.  Here’s the listing from the Salisbury Post:

The Jazz Loft Project book signing and reception — 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 13: Author Sam Stephenson will discuss and sign copies of The Jazz Loft Project, a collection of the photography of W. Eugene Smith taken in the late 1950s and early 1960s of the jazz scene in NYC. Tickets $10 at Literary Bookpost, Salisbury Visitor Center, Portion of ticket sales goes to Rowan Blues & Jazz Society. Ticket purchase price can be applied to purchase of book. Cash wine bar. Live jazz by the Ron Free Trio. Literary Bookpost, 110 S. Main St.

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First “official” Chaos Manor Photos

Photographer Kate Joyce, a member of the Chaos Manor creative collective, checks in from Chicago with an early sequence of images from the Invisible Dog, Brooklyn, September 16-17.  Enjoy.











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Carman Moore’s Concerto for Ornette


Carman Moore

Last week the Times reviewed a performance of Carman Moore‘s Concerto for Ornette.  It’s good to see this composition getting the life it deserves.  The idea of it being performed by the NY Phil with Ornette is exciting.

Carman was one of Hall Overton’s favorite students and he was a weekly visitor to 821 Sixth Avenue.  A couple of years ago Carman took me and JLP Research Associate Dan Partridge to visit Coleman and he brought along a recorded sketch of the Concerto. He played the piece and Coleman picked up his saxophone and improvised along with it for about fifteen minutes.  It was one of those moments that made me feel grateful to be doing this work.

Last week’s performance was by the New Juilliard Ensemble led by Joel Sachs.  When we paid homage to Overton with a public program in NYC, Carman and Joel participated, along with Steve Reich, and Ethan Iverson.  The idea of some kind of Overton-related concert or recorded set, with performances of Overton’s music and/or performances by Overton’s students and associates, has come up often in the past.  I’d still like to see that happen.


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