Loft Jazz (Paperback)

Improvising New York in the 1970s

By Michael C. Heller

University of California Press, 9780520285415, 272pp.

Publication Date: December 13, 2016

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (12/13/2016)

List Price: 29.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


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.

About the Author

Michael C. Heller is an ethnomusicologist, music historian, and Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh.

Praise For Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s

"[Heller] paints a kaleidoscopic portrait... inherently fascinating." 

— The Wire

"Heller - through dozens of interviews and painstaking research that included full access to the ample personal archive of percussionist Juma Sultan, a pivotal figure in the movement - refreshingly moves beyond reductionist notions."

— Village Voice

“Using interviews and archival research, Michael G. Heller examines the scene’s rise and eventual fall from historical, pedagogical and sociological perspectives…. [He] itemizes what differentiated Loft Jazz from other styles and how its creation, dissemination and demise affected innovative jazz.”

— The New York City Jazz Record

[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.

— DownBeat

"...Heller's book can be read nearly as a how-to manual for constructing a vibrant musical scene. It's an examination of a treasure trove of archival materials and primary source interviews, and a smart read." 

— The Free Jazz Collective

"...Heller’s book is a much-needed reference for further studies into this fascinating subject."

— American Music Review