Although the upstairs at d.c. space has been converted to an art gallery, Washingtonians can still get a little taste of New York's loft scene. Jim Sivard and the Aerophone Society are in the midst of a special Composers' and Improvisers' Festival taking place at an art gallery (Montrose Gallery in the Jackson School on R Street between 30th and 31st streets) and a dance studio (Eighteenth Street Studio at 2445 18th St. NW).

"The Aerophone Society is a musicians' cooperative," says reedman Jim Sivard. "We want to offer an alternative to commercialism and the club-type atmosphere. For this kind of music it's necessary; sometimes a solo or a duo isn't successful in a club."

"This kind of music" will be presented next weekend by Idio Savant, a Richmond trio featuring reeds, trumpet and percussion. "Their music is totally improvised, but the textures approach modern classical music, like Stockhausen," Sivard explains. "It's different from jazz. Modern improvisation not only includes jazz, but new music elements as well. Idio Savant is built from both traditions, which makes it pretty interesting."

The final weekend of this initial series will feature Washington composers Alex Coke and Paul Bollenbach (guitar and flute) and Tim Chambers; local choreographers perform as well. Sivard, who will open for Idio Savant this weekend, is a long-time Washingtonian who has worked in R&B and rock groups as well as fronting his own jazz quintet. Lately he been working solo, concentrating on clarinet and soprano sax (he also plays bass clarinet and tenor sax). "In the last six months I've been composing for duo and trio setting," Sivard says, a move dictated by the "newer elements in music, mixing the jazz tradition with other traditions, including African and Indonesian concepts." For information on the Areophone series, call 387-3870.