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.
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Best jazz clubs in NYC
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.