Live Music

Happy Birthday to Avant-Garde Jazz Venue the Stone!

Versatile and theatrical drummer Jim Black pays homage to the storied jazz institution in its new digs.

Photo by Emiliano Neri/Courtesy of Jim Black

Following a 13-year run at a converted Avenue C storefront, avant-garde jazz venue the Stone is celebrating its first anniversary in its new location near Union Square at the New School’s Glass Box Theater. Musician, record label owner, and MacArthur Fellow John Zorn founded the Stone with the intent of running an artists’ venue in the truest sense of the word. Not only do 100 percent of ticket sales go directly to each evening’s performers, a different artist curates the venue’s rotating lineup each week. For the Stone’s 14th birthday and aforementioned anniversary, Zorn is giving audiences a present from his sometime collaborator and labelmate Jim Black, who will be presenting five unique sets.

Brooklyn resident Black is one of my favorite live performers. He plays drums in a dreamy and casually balletic fugue state that makes him as fun to watch as he is to listen to. Whether beating out obscenely complex eighth note triplets or gently sketching out the contours of a tone poem, Black’s face maintains a look of rapture as his elastic arms fly over the drum kit. He’s equally adept and versatile as a composer, with music that runs the gamut from languorous ballads to frantic hard rock.

Few artists are as well suited to the Stone’s multiple-day-different-set residency demands. The prolific percussionist plays with more than a dozen distinct combos, including his own Jim Black Trio; the math-rock-adjacent AlasNoAxis; the avant-fusion band Malamute; and the influential mid-’90s avant-jazz group Bloodcount featuring Tim Berne on alto sax, Chris Speed on tenor, and Michael Formanek on bass. One of the most anticipated shows of this residency will be Black’s puckishly titled Not Bloodcount quartet on February 28, featuring the original Bloodcount lineup.

Jim Black Residency
The Stone at the New School Glass Box Theater
55 West 13th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues), Greenwich Village
Tuesday, February 26—Saturday, March 2
8:30 p.m. (arrive at 8:15 p.m. to secure a seat with a better view)
$20 (cash only at the door)
Food and drinks are not served or allowed

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