Live Jazz in NYC
Live Jazz is back in New York. Here are some my favorite venues that have re-opened.
The Village Vanguard
Village Vanguard: 178 Seventh Ave. South, just below 11th St. 212-255-4037. The best of the best. Some of the best live recordings of all time happened here, my favorite place to hear music. Awkward room (long and narrow) but walk down the steep steps into history. Opened by Max Gordon in 1935 (who passed away in 1989), it was run for many years by his wife Lorraine until she passed away in 2018. Read her autobiography Alive at the Village Vanguard, it's a fascinating book that chronicles her life in jazz and two husbands - first Blue Note Records founder Alfred Lion, then Max Gordon. Talk about classic doubleheaders. There was a great feature about her on NPR.
Small’s: 183 West 10th Street (at 7th Ave) and its sibling Mezzrow next door at 163 West 10th (mellower, sort of like the old Bradley's) are both run by the SmallsLive Foundation. They are great late night spots just down the block from the Vanguard. Many sets per night of different artists starting early and running until long past your bedtime.
Smoke: 2751 Broadway (106th St.). 212-864-6662. Uptown, great artists (with a Chicago core) and very good food, a first class sound system, and an elegant setting. Ideal for a date night or Sunday Brunch.
Blue Note: 131 W. 3rd St. 212-475-8592. OK, it's a huge room that is part of a huge global chain of clubs, but it attracts top shelf talent, and has impeccable sound. Good food too.
Dizzy's Club (JALC)
Dizzy’s Club (Jazz at Lincoln Center): Frederick Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th St., 5th Floor. 212-258-9595. Part of Jazz at Lincoln Center, it has the most spectacular view from any club I have been to, and some superb musicians can be heard here. Also check out the classes at JALC's Swing U.
The Knickerbocker: 33 University Place. 212-228-8490. A piano/bass room. I have many fond memories of nursing a cheap beer in the bar area, peeking through the little curtain, and listening to killer players in the 1980s. The beers aren't as cheap now, but it's still low key, Music Fri and Sat only.
The Zinc Bar
The Zinc Bar: 82 W. 3rd St. (between Thompson and Sullivan). 212-477-9462. Excellent music in a beautiful room with a retro feel and, you guessed it, a gorgeous zinc bar.