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Ellen W. Lytle
John Zorn and favorites jam their hearts out at 'The Stone'
Reviewed by Ellen 'Windy' Lytle August 22, 2007
I never know what to expect when my husband Mike Lytle has a gig. But playing with his long time colleagues John Zorn and Eugene Chadbourne and four others, had him pulling me along in case it turned out great- And, It did.
The Stone, a new one room club, resembling a velvet cave, on the corner of Avenue C and Second Street reminded me of the old days when Mike and other musicians I knew played in ersatz caves and bunkers and anywhere they could make runaway sounds late.
Unlike the old days though, when we arrived at precisely 8 pm, the audience had already taken every chair and floor space was filling up fast- not even standing room- the crowd was exuberantly young and fresh looking which is again unlike the old days; wholesomeness, dependably on time, forking over twenty dollars for the one hour set with out a whine, no alcohol, and all this for 'avant garde' musicians who usually have to play in Belgium, Japan or Germany to get this sort of support.
There's a real stone walled basement where the musicians set up then walk the stairs onto a small but adequate flat stage rounded off so just about everyone has a vantage point. There were six mini sets of 'catch, throw and run' with the instruments, then a grand finale comprising the first set which included Richard Baker on acoustic guitar, Timothy Dahl on electric bass, Paul Elwood on banjo, Lukas Ligetti on drums, Michael Lytle on bass and contra bass clarinets and Chadbourne on guitars and banjo and of course Zorn on saxaphone.
What really got to me was the perfection of the improvisation; it's as if most of the duets, trios and then the final seven had been rehearsed for days though that's the beauty of impromptu or improvised music, its professionally precise while the wild wooly actions of the players are strictly in the minute. Naturally I've seen Lytle turn his clarinets into rubbery twisted like playthings and his face contorted into a million molecules but watching Chadbourne play guitar with a semi-deflated balloon and the guitar and bass players swing their instruments as if they were turning themselves inside out from right to left then wagging like wind in wheat, turned the up the night's volume to just about maximum. Zorn, sort of 'laid back', eased his sax into the mushroomy cloud of sound but like the good leader made sure his favorites were heard first. The hour ended far too quickly, like a delicious candy bar eaten up long before we stopped enjoying it.
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