New York City is truly an entertainment mecca, with a diverse music scene that has altered the landscape of popular culture time and again. It is also the birthplace of Jazz, which at the turn of the 19th century, began to fill the barrooms and underground speakeasies of Manhattan. The wave, led wholly by Black musicians, was the centerpiece of the Harlem Renaissance.
The origins of Jazz music can be traced back to New Orleans, where the creative fusion of Afro-Caribbean, Ragtime, and Blues genres by enslaved Black people created a groundbreaking sound, altering the landscape of popular music forever. It went on to become the soundtrack of the Civil Rights movement.
In honor of Black History Month, and the significant role Jazz has played in our history, we're highlighting some of New York City's most popular jazz venues of the past and present. Each stands today as a testament to the genre, continuing to provide spaces for the world's finest musical talents.
Upper West Side
This intimate venue, with breathtaking panoramic views of Manhattan's skyline, is run by the non-profit organization, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and features performances of world-renowned jazz musicians daily. This month, the club will highlight the significant contribution of iconic Black jazz artists to the music industry.
A highly popular club bursting with energy, Blue Note is widely known as one of New York City's best, with its stage occupied by countless famed musicians like Stevie Wonder, Dizzy Gillespie, and Stanley Turrentine throughout its forty-year history.
"Blue Note strives to preserve the history of jazz, and the club is a place where progression and innovation are encouraged and practiced on a nightly basis." -- Blue Note
Upper West Side
In addition to its daily performances, Smoke Jazz Club creates an intimate ambiance for audiences, with candlelit dining, classic American cuisine, antique furniture, and expertly crafted cocktails.
The namesake of an indisputable jazz legend, Charlie "Bird" Parker, Birdland continually attracts its devoted audiences not only great performances, but for the club's award-winning menu that fuses American and Cajun cuisine. Birdland's stage has been graced with the music of various trailblazing jazz icons like Count Basie, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis.
“Birdland was both a cultural vantage point and a barometer of trends where all the big names in jazz performed.” -- Allan Morrison, editor of Ebony Magazine