Steven Bernstein at the Stone

October 26, 2007

On Wednesday night I saw trumpet player Steven Bernstein jam with bassist Mario Pavone at the Stone, Alphabet City’s nonprofit avant-garde venue (I mentioned the place last week, but hadn’t yet had a chance to check it out). To refresh your memory, the Stone operates on a volunteer basis, serves no food or drinks, and gives 100% of each night’s profits to the musicians. Cover charge is $10. Wednesday’s attendance was relatively slim–about 20 audience members–but Bernstein said that when he last played the Stone with his band, Sex Mob, the venue filled to its capacity and the musicians split close to $1000 between the four of them.

One of the lucky few who has made his living playing exactly what he wants, Bernstein is known for his work in Sex Mob and the Millennial Territory Orchestra, his collaborations with artists like Rufus Wainwright and musical director’s credits on various film and TV soundtracks. I’m dropping in the Stone again tonight to watch Bernstein play with another acclaimed bassist, Ben Allison.

Be it not for the sounds of jazz that carry out into the sidewalk–the sound of vibrating bass strings carrying the buzzing flight of a trumpet melody–a passerby might not even realize the existence of the Stone. Its corner location (Avenue C and 2nd Street) is unmarked, aside from a tiny printed logo near the door handle. The interior consists of a single room, reminiscent of a small recital space, and the only decorations are a few black curtains against the brick and white walls and a line of black-and white photos. The audience sits on folding chairs.

I tend to enjoy a glass of wine with my jazz, but one can’t help but applaud owner John Zorn’s efforts to support underground acts and bring a sense of experimentation and authenticity back into the scene. In addition to the Stone, Zorn runs the Downtown Music Gallery, one of the few surviving indie record stores.



One Response to “Steven Bernstein at the Stone”

  1. […] Checking the heart rate of New York Jazz wrote a fantastic post today on “Steven Bernstein at the Stone”Here’s ONLY a quick extractI tend to enjoy a glass of wine with my jazz, but one can’t help but applaud owner John Zorn’s… […]

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