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http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/23/movies/the-jazz-loft-according-to-w-eugene-smith-review.html?emc=edit_tnt_20160922
 
Review: ‘The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith’
By GLENN KENNY SEPT. 22, 2016
 

 
Thelonious Monk with his band in 1959, in a scene from the documentary “The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith.” 2016 The Heirs of W. Eugene Smith, FilmBuff
In the last years of the 1950s, the esteemed American photojournalist W. Eugene Smith was at a personal and professional crossroads. Several years spent on a productive but ultimately abortive project (documenting the city of Pittsburgh) forced him to sell his large home in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. His marriage ended. He acquired a Manhattan loft on Avenue of the Americas in the 20s — then known as the flower district — where his immediate neighbors were up-all-night musicians. A different resident might have complained of the noise. But Smith, whose predilection for recording eventually developed into something like a mania, started shooting and taping, and kept at it for almost a decade.
Trailer: 'The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith'
“The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith,” a fascinating documentary directed by Sara Fishko, tells the story of Smith’s peculiar endeavor and pays conscientious tribute to the man’s artistry. It also tells several other discrete stories within the larger narrative. Superb portraits of the arranger and composer Hall Overton and the protean saxophonist Zoot Sims figure here. The Icarus-like rise and fall of Ron Free, a jazz drummer from the South, is largely related by Mr. Free himself. The preparations for Thelonious Monk’s celebrated 1959 big-band concert at Town Hall are laid out in thrilling detail in the last third of the movie.

The American photojournalist W. Eugene Smith. 2015 The Heirs of W. Eugene Smith, FilmBuff
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. Many viewers will feel similarly.
The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith
NYT Critics’ Pick




 
 


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