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Bill Charlap & Gary Hobbs at the Earshot Jazz Festival

It doesn’t get a lot more “downtown” than The Stone, John Zorn’s new venue in the East Village. Located several long blocks from the nearest subway, the space is a small, bare-bones amalgam of brick, wood, plaster and black curtains, but the comfortable seats are set at an angle, creating an illusion of roominess. The lighting is pleasant, the sound is warm, and the performance area (no stage or riser) is just large enough for musicians to get comfortable. There is no bar, so The Stone makes even Tonic seem downright commercial.

The booking policy is simple: A different guest curator takes the helm every month. The second guest curator (reedist Ned Rothenberg opened the place) is pianist Misha Mengelberg, appearing until May 15. For his series, the Ukrainian-born Dutchman has tapped the talents of Mat Maneri, Ikue Mori, Dave Douglas, Henry Grimes, Ben Perowsky, Mark Feldman and more. But on May 5 Mengelberg huddled with trombonist George Lewis and bassist Brad Jones, playing an early set of free improvisation (which we missed) and a later, more “structured” set involving the calling of tunes and sometimes the reading of charts.

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