New York City has always been a haven for the arts, with countless museums, galleries, and concert venues within the five boroughs. And when it comes to jazz, the city is certainly no slouch, either, home to some of the best venues for seeing this riveting musical style performed live.
Since the invention of jazz, generally thought to have been in 1895, when Buddy Bolden pioneered the art form in New Orleans, the musical style moved north, eventually establishing New York as one of this unique genre’s epicenters. Fortunately, the tradition of jazz in New York hasn’t faded a bit since its heyday, with countless clubs around the city providing intimate venues in which for jazz’s biggest fans to enjoy this lively musical style. If you’re visiting New York and love jazz, make sure to stop for a show at one of these inimitable venues:
Birdland | 315 West 44th Street
Undoubtedly New York’s most famous jazz venue, Birdland has been delighting jazz fans with its star-studded performances since it opened its doors in 1949. Since then, the venue has hosted greats like Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane, in addition to serving as a launch pad for some of the genre’s up-and-coming talents today. Today’s guests can catch some of the preeminent new talents from around the country and the world at this iconic club as they make their ascent to stardom.
Smalls | 183 West 10th Street
Intimate, energetic, and home to some of the biggest talents in jazz music, Smalls is a must-visit for any jazz lover visiting New York. This venue hosts amazing musicians each weekend night at 7:30 PM and midnight, lending its stage to musicians like Ari Hoenig, Joe Magnarelli, Zaid Nasser, Phil Stewart, and Peter Zak since the club opened its doors in 1994. And unlike many other clubs, Smalls costs just $10 per person, making it a wallet-friendly way to spend an evening. Better yet, the unpretentious club’s convenient location in the heart of Greenwich Village means it’s easy to make a night of it afterwards, with restaurants like The Spotted Pit, Sant Ambreous, and Corner Bistro within walking distance.
Smoke Jazz & Supper Club | 2751 Broadway
Looking for great jazz in Manhattan? Look no further than Smoke Jazz & Supper Club on the Upper West Side. Now celebrating its 19th year in business, this unique venue is perfect for both night owls and early birds, hosting jazz brunches on the weekends and amazing musicians playing through the night with their ‘Round Midnight sessions. Fortunately, if you come to Smoke with an appetite, you’re in luck chef Patricia Williams, who honed her skills at eateries like Sarabeth’s Kitchen and Butterfield 81, has created an unbelievable menu, from French onion soup with black truffles and gruyere to lobster ravioli with fresh basil and a house-made vodka sauce.
Head uptown to Lincoln Center, where Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola might just be hosting your favorite jazz act. This intimate venue is more than just charming, it also plays host to a wide range of musical talents, from the James Morrison Quartet to tributes to greats like Thelonious Monk. And if you come hungry, you’re in luck: this venue’s southern-style fare, from creole catfish stew to black eyed peas and collard greens, is sure to please.
Village Vanguard | 178 7th Avenue South
This Greenwich Village institution has been celebrating the art of jazz since it first opened its doors in 1935. In fact, this iconic club is still run by one half of the same couple who first opened the Vanguard more than 80 years ago. And today, the Village Vanguard still pulls the kind of jazz heavy hitters it once did, with acts like the Bill Frisell Trio and John Zorn lighting up its stage.
If you’re a jazz fan, New York is an undeniably wonderful vacation spot to scratch your musical itch. From intimate venues downtown to iconic Upper East Side clubs, a visit to any of these New York City haunts is sure to make for a trip you don’t soon forget.