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The best jazz clubs in NYC

We round up the best jazz clubs NYC has to offer including old standbys and cutting-edge jazz favorites

Photograph: Donald Yip
Village Vanguard

Everyone knows that jazz in New York is some of the best in the world. But with so many live-music venues around the city, how do you pick where to go? We’ve rounded up the top jazz clubs NYC has to offer from Greenwich Village, Manhattan to Gowanus, Brooklyn, touching on hallowed landmarks, swanky newcomers, cutting-edge outer-borough spots, no-frills joints, date-idea destinations and more.

RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of jazz in NYC

Best jazz clubs in NYC

Birdland

The flagship venue for midtown’s jazz resurgence, Birdland takes its place among the neon lights of Times Square seriously. That means it’s a haven for great jazz musicians (Joe Lovano, Kurt Elling) as well as performers like John Pizzarelli and Aaron Neville. The club is also notable for its roster of bands-in-residence. Sundays belong to the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra.

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Hell's Kitchen

Blue Note

The Blue Note prides itself on being "the jazz capital of the world." Bona fide musical titans (Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner) rub against hot young talents (Brooklyn soul act Phony PPL), while the close-set tables in the club get patrons rubbing up against each other. The late-night weekend sets and the Sunday brunches are the best bargain bets.

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Greenwich Village
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Cornelia Street Café

Venue says: “"A culinary as well as a cultural landmark." - Mayoral Proclamation, City of New York”

This 30-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. Catch a range of jazzy fare from avant-garde boppers to classic vocalists.

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West Village

Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola (at Frederick P. Rose Hall)

The jazz arm of Lincoln Center is several blocks away from the main campus, high atop the Time Warner Center. It includes three rooms: The Rose Theater is a traditional midsize space, but the crown jewels are the Allen Room and the smaller Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, with stages framed by huge windows overlooking Columbus Circle. The venues feel like a Hollywood cinematographer’s vision of a Manhattan jazz club. Some of the best players in the business grace the spot, among them Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s famed artistic director.

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Upper West Side
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Ibeam Brooklyn

It’s easy to walk right past the inconspicuous steel door that leads to Ibeam. The compact practice-pad-cum-venue is run by trombonist Brian Drye and has become a go-to for Brooklyn’s avant-jazzers. Doubling as a members-only rehearsal space, Drye’s tiny, cozy, art-adorned digs keep overheards down to offer a low-cost alternative to the city's more lavish jazz venues and highlight the most progressive minds in the local scene.

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East Village

Iridium

Iridium lures upscale crowds with a lineup that’s split between household names and those known only to the jazz-savvy. The sight lines and sound system are truly worthy of celebration.

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Midtown West
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The Jazz Gallery

This beloved haunt, one of the city's premier incubators for progressive-jazz talent, has relocated from its former Soho digs to a gallery-like space near the Flatiron Building.

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Flatiron

Jazz Standard

At the jazz den below restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Blue Smoke barbecue joint, the room’s marvelous sound matches its splendid sight lines. The jazz is of the groovy, hard-swinging variety, featuring such musicians as organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and Larry Goldings.

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Flatiron
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Nublu Classic

First-timers at this remote Alphabet City outpost will have to ask the smokers outside if they’ve come to the right place: Only a blue light marks the spot. Inside, the crowd settles in for the offbeat jazz and avant-garde acts like owner Ilhan Ersahin’s Wax Poetic. Excellent live Brazilian music and dancing are the draws on Wednesday nights. A sister venue, Nublu 151, also hosts live music just a few blocks away.

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East Village

ShapeShifter Lab

Jazz bassist Matthew Garrison's slick Gowanus performance space hosts nightly performances of live experimental music. During the day, the joint provides state-of-the-art rehearsal, recording and exhibition space to the neighborhood's artists.

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Gowanus
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Comments

4 comments
Seth J

Why do they make it so tricky to find a list of who's playing for that night?


Andrea

This review is good for those who like the "Elite" expensive up-tight jazz scene in New York. I've been to all those places and they have the best musicians, but the truth is that those venues are uptight and overpriced. Plus, you can see some of the greatest living jazzers in relaxed, nice, and not overpriced venues like Zinc bar or NuBlu, or that hotel at the corner of 38th st and Park av.

Justin J

@Andrea Thanks for your review Andrea. I am coming to NYC this June. Send me some info about about the Zinc Bar and Nublu and the hotel on 38th St and Park Ave. I don't need uptight and overpriced. Send info to me at Majicman2k5@yahoo.com if you don't mind.


Matt H

@Andrea Also, 55 Bar on Christopher & 7th Ave.