Michael C. Heller’s "Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s"

In the 1970s an avant-garde jazz scene flourished in the lofts of lower Manhattan. Yet this energetic era had not been extensively documented until the recent publication of Pitt jazz studies professor Michael C. Heller’s Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s (University of California Press).

According to the publisher,

“The New York loft jazz scene of the 1970s was a pivotal period for uncompromising, artist-produced work. Faced with a flagging jazz economy, a group of young avant-garde improvisers chose to eschew the commercial sphere and develop alternative venues in the abandoned factories and warehouses of Lower Manhattan. Loft Jazz provides the first book-length study of this period, tracing its history amid a series of overlapping discourses surrounding collectivism, urban renewal, experimentalist aesthetics, underground archives, and the radical politics of self-determination.”

Heller’s monograph has received critical acclaim from major publications such as Downbeat and The Village Voice as well as artists and scholars in the field such as William Parker, Ingrid Monson, and Robin D.G. Kelley. Downbeat writes that Heller,

“…gives readers insight into the various socio-political, economic, racial and artistic touchstones that helped shape the scene, while also providing analysis on New York City’s gentrification efforts beginning in the late ’70s, which transform the social fabric of Lower Manhattan.”

Congratulations to Michael Heller on this significant contribution to understanding this important era in jazz history!