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Loft JazzImprovising New York in the 1970s$
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Michael C. Heller

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520285408

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520285408.001.0001

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Fragmented Memories and Activist Archives

Fragmented Memories and Activist Archives

(p.1) 1 Fragmented Memories and Activist Archives
Loft Jazz

Michael C. Heller

University of California Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of New York's so-called “loft jazz era,” one of the least-understood periods in jazz history. Spanning from the mid-1960s until about 1980, the jazz lofts were a dense network of musician-run performance venues established in and around the former industrial buildings of lower Manhattan. The majority of these spaces were also musicians' homes, a factor that allowed them to operate with minimal overhead costs. In various contexts, lofts acted as rehearsal halls, classrooms, art galleries, living quarters, and meeting spaces. Their most visible role, however, was as public performance venues, especially for younger members of the jazz avant garde. At a time when few commercial nightclubs were interested in experimental styles, the lofts became a bustling base of operations for a growing community of young improvisers.

Keywords:   loft jazz era, jazz history, jazz lofts, public performance venues, jazz avant garde, experimental styles

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