|CNN Feature: From 1954 to 1964 a rundown painter's loft in Manhattan's flower district was the best place in the world to be if you were a jazz musician. The Sixth Avenue loft became home to an after hours music scene that featured a who's who of jazz legends. Thelonious Monk, Stan Getz, Miles Davis and Bill Evans were among the regulars at jam sessions. Another regular was the former LIFE magazine photographer, W. Eugene Smith, who moved into the building in 1957 and eventually shot 20,000 photos of the jazz scene. He also recorded more than 800 hours of music - music that remains in his vault and hasn't been heard in almost forty years. Last fall, a magazine article first called attention to this lost link in Jazz history. CNN & TIME has tracked down some of the musicians who played there, and the painter whose home became a mecca for musicians, artists and celebrities who wanted to be part of one of the hippest dives in New York. Some of these musicians still perform at the Village Vanguard, one of the most famous jazz clubs in the world.
Painter/photographer David X. Young utilized his artist loft in New York City's "Flower District" as a forum and meeting place for many jazz musicians to stretch their wares, amid other extracurricular activities, during the mid 1950's up until 1965. With this sharply dressed 2000 2-CD release, the folks at "Jazz Magnet" offer the listener over two hours of previously unreleased "jam" material spanning 1957 through 1965, featuring tenor sax legend Zoot Sims, trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, pianist Dave McKenna, bassist Steve Swallow and many others of note.
Young originally recorded these performances on his - Webcor tape machine as the sonic characteristics are perhaps no less inferior than some of those dearly beloved Charlie Parker LPs that have subsequently been reissued on CD format. Essentially, these various small group ensembles swing into the late night hours, covering such material as Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin High, Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing along with other standards and originals. And to augment these historic recordings, there is a very appealing forty-two page booklet complete with introductory liner notes by jazz journalist Howard Mandel, candid recollections from bassist Bill Crow, Brookmeyer and others along with a sampling of Young's illustrations and paintings. This compilation also includes a poster that is suitable for framing. Overall, the producers have assembled an appealing yet thoroughly contemporary synopsis of a very complex and altogether curiously interesting period in American jazz music. — Glenn Astarita