Jazz and Blues in New York
Jazz and blues in New York are very well represented. It’s possible to catch a performance every single night in a variety of venues. Attending a live concert when in New York is definitely worthwhile. Always check the schedule for the club to find out which performance is taking place that night. If you are interested in something other than jazz and blues, check the New York concert calendar here.
History of Jazz in New York
Originating in the late 19th Century in the south of United States Jazz offers a combination of European harmony and African musical elements.
In addition to the southern states, Harlem played a prominent role in nurturing and cultivating jazz music. During the 1920’s Jazz Age, Harlem’s Lennox and Seventh Avenues were home to at least 20 jazz clubs. Billie Holiday was discovered here when she was just 17-years old. More information on the history of Harlem and its deep rooted connections to Jazz can be found at the Jazz Museum in Harlem.
Another important landmark for the jazz scene is Greenwich Village, where many of today’s jazz clubs can be found. Residents of “the Village” were historically renowned for their progressive attitude. Therefore, the area was traditionally a focal point for new movements: be they political or cultural. The Village always had a cutting-edge music scene and hosted some of the biggest names in Jazz. In addition, many of the clubs below are situated in the Village.
Jazz Tour in Harlem
If you are not up for exploring Harlem by yourself, join a local guide and discover the best the neighbourhood has to offer. You will tour Harlem, then enjoy local soul food followed by a jam session at a local Harlem club.
Jazz Tour in Manhattan
If you’d rather stay in Manhattan, however, go for this Monday Night Jazz Tour. Visit three different jazz clubs in the Greenwich and West Village areas. The tour changes weekly so you’ll always visit the latest and hottest places and hear the best music. Minimum age is 21-years. This tour is seasonal.
Best of the Best Jazz Tour
On this tour visit three different locations in the Greenwich/West Village area. Here, you can enjoy the musical talents of known and unknown jazz artists. With each tour different places are visited, based on the performances on that specific day. You go, for example, to speakeasies, piano bars and jazz clubs. During the tour, your guide will also point out and tell you about some of the landmarks of the neighbourhood.
Jazz Concert in Brooklyn
If you want to fully submerge in to the New York jazz-scene, you can experience an intimate jazz concert in Brooklyn. In a classic brownstone in the historical Bedford Stuyvesant you can enjoy some jazz music alongside some southern-style fried fish. And if you feel inspired after the concert, you can take to the stage yourself for the subsequent open mic session.
Jazz Cruises in New York
If you would rather not walk, why not take a jazz cruise? The cruise combines sightseeing, jazz and a magnificent ship of course. The historic ship cruises New York’s harbour while skilled jazz musicians play in the background. This seasonal cruise is only offered from June to September.
Jazz clubs in New York
There is no shortage of jazz clubs in New York. You are guaranteed to find a great performance every night of the week. I have listed some of the best jazz and blues clubs here below.
Jazz at Lincoln Center
Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) in New York is part of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. For many, this is the highest caliber of jazz music available in New York.
Lincoln Center is the cultural centre of New York and attending a concert here is more than worth it. Jazz at Lincoln Center has a year-round schedule of performances for audiences of all ages. There are three music performance stages:
- Rose Theater (1233 seats),
- The Allen Room, (483 seats, featuring a huge window overlooking Central Park )
- Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, (140 seats, an intimate jazz club named after the famous jazz artist Dizzy Gillespie)
Jazz at Lincoln Center is situated south of the main Lincoln Center and housed inside the Time Warner Center directly adjacent to Columbus Circle.
Also a highly regarded venue that specialises in Jazz and Guitar-based music in New York. Iridiums booking strategy is “Jazz any instrument, guitar any genre”. Known to many as the best Jazz club and best guitar club. The Iridium has been in business since 1994 with the help of some major renovations throughout the years. It is also possible to eat at the Iridium.
Smalls Jazz Club
Smalls Jazz Club, situated in New Yorks Greenwich Village, has a great “underground” feeling. It was set up in 1993 and quickly became the place to see rising talents in the New Yorks jazz scene. Due to financial difficulties, the club was briefly closed in 2003 but re-opened in early 2006.
The first set starts at 19:30 and there are two to three sets per night. Admission is $20 per person.
Blue Note Jazz
One of the premier jazz clubs in the world Blue Note Jazz has been a cultural institution in Greenwich Village since 1981. Blue Note offers music every night 20:00 to 22:30. In the weekend there are late night groove series at 00:30 and even Sunday brunch.
B.B. King Blues Club & Grill
In the heart of Times Square is B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, which is a live music venue and restaurant in one. B.B. King is open daily from 11:00 to 23:00, making it great spot to catch a bite and entertainment.
If you are after a more bluesy atmosphere head to Terra Blues in New Yorks Greenwich Village. This modern day blues saloon overlooking the Bleecker Street has played great blues for more than 20 years.