Fortunately, David X. Young has been able to see the documentation and appreciation of his significant contributions to jazz, even though W. Eugene Smith wasn't as lucky. After "Double Take" magazine printed a ground-breaking article about Young's jazz loft, CNN, "Time" and "CBS Sunday Morning" were quick on the uptake to interview Young and to recall the inspiring music that developed in his home, a barely livable building at 821 Sixth Avenue. The fact of the building's lack of amenities such as working plumbing or electrical wiring stimulated Young through sweat equity to live in a five-story building for $120 a month and to sublet two of the floors to Hall Overton and Dick Cary..
As an artist, Young was able to paint and photograph some of the most legendary jazz musicians of the 1950's. As a jazz enthusiast, Young opened the door to his loft to any musician who needed a place to hang or to practice. Studio fees at Nola Studios were too high. Most other apartment buildings were too close to neighbors to allow for the noisy jamming required of jazz musicians. In a fairly abandoned district of New York City, Young's loft allowed people like Thelonious Monk, Zoot Sims, Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans or Miles Davis to take a germ of an idea and to create a work of art from it in Young's home.
All of these sessions in Young's home could have been legend or oral history if ex-"Life" photographer W. Eugene Smith hadn't joined Young in his fostering of the music. Smith encouraged Young to buy a tape recorder that they shared. Smith and Young photographed the goings-on with exceptional shots worthy of Francis Wolff.
And Young painted. Not only did Young paint still-life's and portraits and abstract art, but also he painted the musicians who lived and learned in his jazz loft.
Magnet Media has compiled an extremely valuable package of some of these available materials, "David X. Young's Jazz Loft." A 48-page booklet includes an essay by Howard Mandel to assess the importance of the jazz loft trend that Young started; self-written reminiscences by Young, Bob Brookmeyer, Terry Charles and Bill Crow; a painting of Sonny Rollins in poster form; and a selection of Young's paintings and photographs, including those of Brookmeyer, Lee Konitz, Dave McKenna, Warne Marsh, Jimmy Raney and Zoot Sims.
But it's the music that makes the package so valuable.
As the tape recorder ran, musicians like Sims or Pepper Adams or Don Ellis jammed and developed motifs and approaches that showed up later on records. Featuring 11 tracks of such truly improvisational and un-self-conscious playing, "David X. Young's Jazz Loft" lets us hear, as few other recordings have, the ways that jazz developed behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, due to legal issues, hardly any of Smith's 20,000 photographs are available. Thus, all of the shots in the package are Young's. In addition, Smith owned many of the tapes. As a result, those that we hear in "David X. Young's Jazz Loft" cover mostly the latter part of Young's occupancy there: the years 1957, 1958, 1959 and 1965. Once the other recordings and photographs are made available, they promise to be as indispensible as any that covered jazz in the fifties.
Never before released, Young's recordings represent one of the most important CD packages of the year due to his historical and artistic value.
Track Listing: Disk 1: It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing; Spuds; Dark Cloud; This Can't Be Love; Zoot & Drums; Stompin' At The Savoy
Disk 2: There Will Never Be Another You; Wildwood; 821 Blues; When The Sun Comes Out; Groovin' High
Personnel: Don Ellis, trumpet; Zoot Sims, tenor sax; Pepper Adams, baritone sax; Bob Brookmeyer, trombone; Hall Overton, Dave McKenna, Mose Allison, piano; Jimmy Raney, Jim Hall, guitar; Bill Crow, Steve Swallow, Bill Takas, bass; Jerry Segal, Dick Scott, drums
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.