chapter  2
“Complaining Time is Over”: Network and Collective Strategies of the New York Musicians Organization
ByMichael C. Heller
Pages 26

The landscape of musician-organized activities in New York during the 1970s was as widespread as it was fragmented. While the late-1960s’ collectives of the Midwest had built inclusive citywide constituencies in an effort to consolidate resources and influence, such activities in New York emerged in a scattered collection of smaller venues, festivals and organizations, characterized broadly as “the loft scene.” Though the lofts are noted briefly in the histories of other groups,1 little attention has been given to their relationship with jazz’s larger tradition of artist-run ventures. Loft organizers often shared concerns with the Midwestern collectives, including musician empowerment, economic control, community involvement and the recognition of African American artistic contributions. Yet the unique context of early-1970s’ New York gave rise to a very different set of challenges that led musicians to employ strategies that often diverged from traditional forms of collectivization. More frequently, the lofts functioned as a decentralized network of individuals, spaces and organizations, occasionally working in tandem but remaining distinct entities.2