Hottest jazz laboratories
For those looking for an authentic jazz club experience—rather than the cheesy dinner-club vibe that prevails at too many other spots around town—Smalls is a must. The cozy basement space feels like a speakeasy, or more specifically, one of those hole-in-the-wall NYC jazz haunts of yore over which fans routinely obsess. Best of all, the booking skews retro, yet not stubbornly so: You'll hear classic hardbop as well as more adventurous, contemporary-flavored approaches.
- 183 W 10th St, (between Seventh Ave South and W 4th St)
It’s a tad snug, but the acoustics at this jazz haunt make it a prime place to get intimate with the music. The Jazz Gallery’s weekend showcases have become draws for folks like Orrin Evans, Jason Lindner and Vijay Iyer.
- 290 Hudson St, (between Dominick and Spring Sts)
This thirty-year-old bistro-cum-clubhouse features a miniature basement cabaret devoted to readings and music, along with a genial dining room that opens wide to the sidewalk in summer. The colorful, if dated, menu is consistent with the place’s bohemian roots. The eclectic fare ranges from glorified bar food like a light, gooey flatbread pizza, to more ambitious mains, like al dente lobster ravioli surrounded by snow peas or plump satisfying veal sausage on a mashed potato heap.
- 29 Cornelia St, (between Bleecker and W 4th Sts), 10014
This cozy French bar in Park Slope hosts one of the city's liveliest, most diverse music scenes in its cramped but friendly back room. Separated from the well-stocked front bar by a humble curtain, you might encounter indie rock, progressive jazz, classical chamber music, West African funk, French musette…you name it.
- 376 9th St, (at Sixth Ave)
Many ghosts haunt the sodden crossroads known as Sheridan Square poets, painters, firebrands. But only at 55 Bar can you imbibe alongside a living legend, weekly gigging jazz-rock guitarist Mike Stern. Other top boppers and bluesmen swing the narrow basement boîte nightly. All shows have a two-drink minimum, but never fear the bartenders know how to mix. If you want to talk, sit in back so the head-bobbing jazzbos don’t shush you.
- 55 Christopher St, (at Seventh Ave South)
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