By Sam Stephenson, Jazz Loft Project Director

This website is an outcome of The Jazz Loft Project at the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University. The project has been a decade-long collaboration with the W. Eugene Smith Archive at the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) at the University of Arizona, as well as the Heirs of W. Eugene Smith. Smith’s photographs and tapes from the loft building at 821 Sixth Avenue, New York City, 1957–1965, represented in the Jazz Loft Project, were generously made available by the CCP and the Smith Estate. The CCP collects, preserves, interprets, and makes available materials that are essential to understanding photography and its history. Through its archives, collections, education programs, exhibitions, and publications, the CCP promotes research into and appreciation of the photographic medium. The archives of significant American photographers—including Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Weston, Garry Winogrand, and Louise Dahl-Wolfe—form the core of the collection. The CCP has an integrated program of preservation, access, and education that celebrates the history of photography and its contemporary practice. The CCP was established in 1975 by photographer Ansel Adams and University of Arizona president John P. Schaefer. It is a special collection within the University of Arizona Libraries. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs on this site are by W. Eugene Smith. Courtesy of the W. Eugene Smith Archive, Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona. © The Heirs of W. Eugene Smith. 

This project began as an article in DoubleTake magazine in 1999 and for that opportunity I am grateful to Robert Coles and Alex Harris. The article was noticed by members of Chicago’s Logan family who tracked me down by telephone in my Pittsboro, North Carolina home one ordinary evening. The Reva and David Logan Foundation became the central and ongoing benefactor of what became known as the Jazz Loft Project at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. I’ll never forget them–Reva, David, Dan, Gloria, Jonathan, Richard, and the whole family. Special thanks also to the foundation’s key board member, Ben Rothblatt, and staff members Cecelia Simmons and Tiffany Prowell.

CDS director Tom Rankin and associate directors Greg Britz and Lynn McKnight encouraged me to pursue this project on levels that befit the extraordinary organization they run. In 2003 CDS Research Associate Dan Partridge joined the project full-time and became one of the most specialized employees at Duke University, being the first to hear the set of 5,089 compact discs that Smith’s 1,740 reels of tape yielded in the preservation process, and assisting oral history interviews. The influence of his mild-mannered dedication and thoroughness has been immeasurable. Jazz Loft Project Coordinator Lauren Hart came onboard in August 2008, during a period of increasing chaos and she has made an insightful, unflappable, and much appreciated impact. Other integral CDS teammates have been John Biewen, Bonnie Campbell, Harlan Campbell, Alexa Dilworth, Melynn Glusman, Gary Hawkins, Iris Tillman Hill, Frank Hunter, Katie Hyde, Ava Johnson, Liz Lindsey, John Moses, Sarah Moye, Liisa Ogburn, Courtney Reid-Eaton, Margaret Sartor, Chris Sims, Charlie Thompson, Tim Tyson, and April Walton. The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University is much appreciated for their participation, particularly director Kim Rorschach who provided support and encouragement at several key times.

Special mention is due the Jazz Loft Project interns and freelancers: Mike Fitzgerald, Sally Council, Sarah Bryan, Sritha Reddy, Mohamed Bashir, Han Zhang, Danielle Goldstein, Beth Turner, Margaret Hennessey, Sam Cieply, Jon Dillingham, Natalie Bullock Brown, Hank Stephenson, and Lauren Brenner; and in New York, Victoria Miguel, Eevin Hartsough, and Scott Landis.

This project could never have happened without the partnership of the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, where the W. Eugene Smith Archive is located. The project was complicated from the start–archival materials in Arizona, project based in North Carolina, story about New York–but CCP generously allowed us to work through it. It has become a second home for me after two dozen trips there over thirteen years. Britt Salvesen, Leslie Calmes, Amy Rule, Denise Gose, Dianne Nilsen, and the entire staff of this important organization have helped make this project possible.

Sara Fishko, producer of the Jazz Loft Project radio series at WNYC: New York Public Radio, and her husband, Bob Gill, have become dear friends and trusted colleagues over the years. I am deeply grateful to WNYC’s Dean Cappello for his engagement and leadership from an early stage, as well as Limor Tomer, Laura Walker, Terrance McKnight, Eileen Delahunty, Noel Black, Nina Goodby, and the rest of the staff. WNYC’s energy and enthusiasm for the project was palpable and invigorating each time I visited the station.

Many thanks to David Ferriero at the New York Public Library (for his interest and support over the years, and to Jacqueline Davis and her staff at NYPL’s Library for the Performing Arts, particularly Barbara Cohen-Stratyner and Sara Velez, and to Sara’s predecessor Don McCormick who believed in the project from an early stage. To be aligned with the most prestigious audio archive in the world, and to open our traveling exhibition in their space in February 2010, has been a source of pride for us. Many thanks to NYPL’s Paul Holdengraber and David Smith for their interest and support in various ways, too. 

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The early grant proposals for this project were supported by a stellar team of advisors who stuck with us and I thank them immensely: Larry Appelbaum at the Library of Congress; Dan Morgenstern and Ed Berger at the Institute of Jazz Studies; Tom Carter of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and Don and Maureen Sickler; Bruce Raeburn of the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane; Steve Weiss of the Southern Folklife Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill; and the inspiring writer and Monk scholar Robin D.G. Kelley. We were awarded a few critical grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publication and Records Commission, the Grammy Foundation, the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation; and Amelia and Ken Jacob. In-kind support has been provided by the Bose Corporation (many thanks to Buz Laughlin) and the Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants (many thanks to Steve Pinetti).

One of the fulfilling collaborations of this project took place in the fall of 2007 at Duke University with Jason Moran’s seminal multi-media performance, IN MY MIND, commissioned by Duke Performances director Aaron Greenwald as part of Following Monk, a sixteen-concert celebration of what would have been Thelonious Monk’s ninetieth birthday. It led to another collaboration in February 2009: the New York premier of IN MY MIND and a performance by Charles Tolliver’s tentet at Town Hall, together in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Monk’s original Town Hall concert, which was rehearsed in 821 Sixth Avenue. Heartfelt thanks and gratitude go to Aaron for his dedication and friendship over the years, and to Jason and Charles, and to Jason’s manager Louise Holland. Tremendous thanks go to WNYC for broadcasting Tolliver’s show and helping spring it all forward.  

Our leaders at Duke deserve praise and gratitude–Richard Brodhead, Peter Lange, Richard Riddell, and Scott Lindroth–for helping to open the door to these ambitious events, plus the new jazz archive at Duke. Special thanks to Lois Deloatch for her unceasing encouragement for these projects and to Paul Jeffrey for his sage guidance on all things related to Thelonious Monk and beyond. Warm thanks also are due many other Duke colleagues, including Jim Roberts, John Brown, Deborah Jakubs, Bob Byrd, Karen Glynn, Jeremy Smith, and Chandra Guinn.

Steve Balcom and Lane Wurster of The Splinter Group inspired us with their creativity and commitment to the Jazz Loft Project website, It was and is a pleasure and inspiration to work with them. Many thanks also go to Jared Resnick of the West End Wine Bar and Tom Campbell and John Valentine of the Regulator Bookshop. 

As I’ve traversed far-flung and crooked paths working on this project over thirteen years, many friendships have taken root. Most of these friends are already mentioned in this book–participants in the original loft scene–and meeting them has provided the ultimate meaning of this project. I want to make special mention of a few: Ron Free; David Rothman; Nancy Overton, Harvey Overton, Dick Overton, and the rest of the Overton family; Lucy Guerlac Battersby; the family of David X. Young, particularly Eliza Young; Harold Feinstein; Dorrie Glenn Woodson; Jim Karales; John G. Morris; James Stephenson; Sandy Krell; Roy Haynes, Ted Wald, and Virginia Arnott Wald; and the family of Sonny Clark, particularly Gladys Clark Harris and Grace Clark Johnson. I also want to thank T.S. Monk, Gale Monk, and the Monk family, in particular Pam Monk Kelley, Edith Monk Pue, Erich Jarvis, Reggie Revis, and Gaston Monk and his family. 

In addition, I thank: Amelia and Ken Jacob, and John Evans; Jim Maher, Jean Bach, Whitney and Nancy Balliett; Paul Weinstein and Ada Ciniglio; Jim Hughes; Don and Betty Adcock; Branford and Nicole Marsalis; Joe Henry and Melanie Ciccone; Lourdes Delgado and Jeff Ballard; Richard Rothman and Mary Hawthorne; Ben Ratliff; Michael Cieply and Judi Bloom; H. Bryant; Kevin O’Neill, Chris Lacinak, and Matt Thompson; Brigid Hughes, Lucy Raven, and A Public Space magazine; Ron Keenan and the old Village House; and Allan Gurganus, who read early pieces of this manuscript and provided sage advice. 

Many thanks are due my wife’s treasured old friends in Tucson, Arizona–Carol Buuck and Linda, Dane, and James Armijo–who provided complimentary lodging on all my visits. Their contributions made the project possible in the early days. Key early lodging in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco was provided by close friends: Ward, Clara, and Maggie Hendon; Michael Goldman, Pamela Jouan, and Gabriel Goldman; Jim Gilliland; James Davidson; James and Shannon Hamrick; and Ian Williams, Tessa Blake, and Lucy Blake-Williams. In Pittsburgh my brother-in-law Troy Cochenour manned a video camera, and Jay Alley assisted me on the ground in New York. 

The Heirs of W. Eugene Smith–particularly Kevin Smith and Maggie Smith; Pat and Phyllis Smith; and Shana Smith Rasmus–have made this all possible and worthwhile. I can’t thank them enough for their patience, indulgence, and confidence. 

Sarah Chalfant came across a little-known writer and believed the work had merit, and her colleagues Andrew Wylie and Edward Orloff followed suit. I am so grateful to them.  

My editor at Knopf, Vicky Wilson, has provided shrewd guidance and wisdom from the first day; she has been a pleasure to work with, as has Carmen Johnson. 

Finally, over this many years–with all the disparate, topsy-turvy threads and dead ends–the unflinching love and faith in the project I felt at home from my wife, Laurie Cochenour, was the foundation. It doesn’t hurt to have twelve Stephensons in eastern North Carolina and umpteen Cochenours in western Pennsylvania, either. Everyone should be so fortunate.