7 Great Jazz Clubs in NYC
On any given night, there are dozens of concerts going on in the city. But when we feel like enjoying some live music, classic New York vibes and *ahem* guaranteed seating all at once, only a jazz club will do. While jazz wasn’t invented here (New Orleans holds that honor), NYC became the destination for the genre in the 1920s, ushering in new styles like bebop and major names, from Duke Ellington to Charlie Parker to Ella Fitzgerald. But hey, this isn’t a history lesson—the city’s jazz scene is alive and well. See for yourself at these seven spots.
For more than 35 years, the Blue Note has been one of the top places to listen to jazz legends and up-and-comers. Located in Greenwich Village, this sleek (and yes, blue) stage has seen the likes of Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea and a host of others. Sometimes, they just stop by unannounced—you never know who you might see on any given night. And with music seven days a week and post-midnight shows on weekends, you’ll have plenty of opportunity.
131 W. Third St.; bluenotejazz.com
What do you get when you pair musicians with chef and restaurateur Danny Meyer’s barbecue? The Jazz Standard, a music venue serving up Blue Smoke barbecue and great tunes nightly. In fact, several Grammy-winning albums have been recorded onstage. So dive into a plate of wings with a view of the band. You literally cannot go wrong when your eyes and taste buds are satisfied.
116 E. 27th St.; jazzstandard.com
Bemelmens Bar & Cafe Carlyle
Music runs through the walls of the Carlyle: The Upper East Side hotel’s first tenant was Richard Rodgers (one half of Rodgers and Hammerstein…yeah, that Broadway duo), and since its inception, the hotel has been a destination for musicians and vocalists. The property boasts two different venues for live music: Bemelmens Bar, famed for its impeccable Manhattans and iconic murals by the illustrator behind the Madeline books, and Cafe Carlyle, a white-tablecloth supper club that hosts popular acts like Alan Cummings, Rita Wilson and the Eddy Davis New Orleans jazz band. While the latter, more formal venue is great for a special occasion—it looks like it fell out of a movie set—we prefer bellying up to the granite bar at Bemelmens for a casual cocktail and some serious jazz pianists. (Bonus: No cover before 9:30 p.m.)
35 E. 76th St.; rosewoodhotels.com
Tenor saxophonist and Harlem native Bill Saxton leads the band on weekend nights at this uptown bebop speakeasy in the basement of a brownstone. For just $20, jazz aficionados step back in time for an evening of live entertainment where the sole focus is the music. Seriously: It feels like you’re just sitting in his living room, which makes the experience that much more intimate. (Note: Reservations are required.)
148 W. 133rd St.; billsplaceharlem.com
Ginny's Supper Club
More than one celebrity chef in NYC has gotten into the jazz action. Marcus Samuelsson’s ode to Southern soul cooking, Red Rooster Harlem, has a downstairs music venue where jazz bands take the stage Thursday through Saturday nights. His famous hot yardbird is on the menu, as is a lineup of some great local and international acts, all inspired by the legendary sounds of the neighborhood. For a real treat, check out the Sunday Gospel brunch, featuring a local Harlem choir.
310 Lenox Ave.; ginnyssupperclub.com
You may know this spot for its shuffleboard and ping pong, but those musicians performing on the side are some of the best (plus they always look like they’re having a blast). Young musicians, Juilliard students and Broadway pros on their day off show up to mess around, experiment and have some fun with their friends, which is all the more reason to stop by here late night for a jam session and a beer.
75 Christopher St.; fatcatmusic.org
Jazz at Lincoln Center
The brainchild of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis (the first musician to win a Pulitzer Prize for a jazz composition, NBD), Jazz at Lincoln Center is one of the premier destinations for live music in the city. Part of Lincoln Center, the multi-venue space hosts nightly shows with some of the biggest names in the business as well as the house orchestra, led by Marsalis. Grab a drink at the bar and pull up a chair for a quintessential night of music with the twinkling lights of Columbus Circle as the backdrop. A bonus is supporting the show means giving back: Marsalis’ nonprofit supports multiple arts programs, including jazz education for children.
10 Columbus Circle; jazz.org