The Jazz Loft Project

In late February, I worked on a story with Jesse Jarnow for North Carolina's Indy Week, about the 50th anniversary of Thelonious Monk's Town Hall Concert. For the Anniversary, two concerts, featuring Charles Tolliver and Jason Moran, were held in conjunction with The Jazz Loft Project out of Duke University's Center For Documentary Studies, who are curating a museum exhibition and catalog of W. Eugene Smith's vast archive of photographs and thousands of hours of reel to reel tape recordings that he made while living at 821 Sixth Avenue, where Monk rehearsed (upstairs from him) at Hall Overton's loft for his Town Hall engagement.

It was like a strange archeological dig, when Jesse and I visited the loft, which is now a warehouse for a Chinese wig store downstairs.

I've long known about Smith's recordings and his obsession with documenting what went on at the building where he lived and worked from the late 50s until the early 70s. One story, which has stuck with me since I first heard it, was of Smith cutting a hole in his ceiling to insert a microphone through the floor of the upstairs loft while Monk was rehearsing for his 1959 concert. I talked with the owner of the building, Mr. Ho, and we gained access to the hallowed ground, now filled with boxes of Chinese imports.

We set out to find the hole. Here it is 50 years later:

You can see more photographs and read Jesse's story HERE.

all photos: © Ted Barron, 2009.