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The Stone: An Oral History

Musicians and scenesters recount their experiences at John Zorn's storied NYC venue

Saxophonist John Zorn, pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and cellist Ha-Yang Kim collaborate on on of Zorn's Improv Nights at the Stone in February 2008
Saxophonist John Zorn, pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and cellist Ha-Yang Kim collaborate on one of Zorn’s Improv Nights at the Stone in February 2008

The downtown scene in New York City has witnessed its fair share of great venues come and go over the years. The latest loss, or change, occurred in March, with the shuttering of the original Stone, an East Village venue launched in 2005 by saxophonist-composer John Zorn. A new Stone has risen at the New School’s attractive Glass Box Theater, at 55 West 13th Street, and it has thus far retained the first venue’s eclectic, experimental and artist-centric focus.

From its beginnings, the Stone was built on a curation model that gave the musicians who performed there free rein. At first a single artist curated a full month; later that shifted to weekly residencies, but musicians were always encouraged to play in a variety of different, often wholly novel contexts. To say that the space was all about the music is an understatement. Not only was there no bar to distract from the music, there were barely any concessions made to comfort or promotion. It was quite simply a black box where boundary-pushing music was made—a space that was easy to walk by without noticing, but one that promised something new and bold to those drawn to the unusual.

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Originally Published

Shaun Brady

Shaun Brady is a Philadelphia-based journalist who covers jazz along with an eclectic array of arts, culture, and travel. Brady contributes regularly to the Philadelphia Inquirer and JazzTimes and Jazziz magazines, with subjects ranging from legendary artists to underground experimentalists. His byline has appeared in DownBeat, Metro, NPR Music, and The A.V. Club, among other outlets. He studied filmmaking at Columbia College Chicago and continues to spend too much time in the dark.