Although Jazz originated in New Orleans at the end of the 19th century, it soon found a new home in New York City when Duke Ellington moved to Manhattan in the early 1920s.
Ellington was followed by an army of Jazz musicians who effectively transformed New York into the Jazz capital of the world. In the 1940s Bebop was developed and popularized in New York by Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk (among others). In the 1950s, Miles Davis injected new energy into the New York Jazz scene with the invention of Cool Jazz. At the end of the ’50s, John Coltrane helped anchor Free Jazz in New York.
Although many of the original clubs where the genre developed and evolved closed long ago, Manhattan is still one of the best places in the world to hear a live Jazz show.
Here’s a list of our favorite venues that offer Jazz performances on a regular basis:
Fusing classic Jewish folk music and jazz, the Andy Statman Trio plays a free show most Monday and Thursday nights at a small synagogue in the Village. Call ahead to make sure they’re performing: 212-242-6245.
Cheap drinks, delicious soul food, and free Sunday jam sessions starting at 7 p.m. until the club closes at midnight. Jazz music is also featured at the Wednesday night fish fry. Seating is limited so show up early.
Features live jazz, blues, R&B and Dixieland jazz nightly with no cover charge. Live Jazz Tuesday through Saturday 7-9 p.m. Dixieland Jazz 8-11 p.m. Sunday and Monday.
4. Blue Note
Perhaps New York’s most well-known Jazz club, the Blue Note offers live shows every night with tickets ranging from $10-$45.
Named after Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, this Jazz club has been open for over 60 years and continues to offer several shows each night. Tickets are generally $15-$35 in addition to a $10 food and drink minimum at tables.
Nightly sets start at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. with an additional set at 11:30 on Friday and Saturday. Cover charge is $20-$35. While you’re there check out the delicious BBQ upstairs at Blue Smoke.
7. Cotton Club
Doors open at 8pm every night for dinner and live Swing and Jazz music by the cotton club Allstars, a 13-piece band. Every Monday night Princess Billie (a Billie Holiday impersonator) performs. $25.
This Jazz center consists of three main performance venues (The Rose Theater, The Allen Room, and Dizzy’s Club).
9. Fat Cat
This pool hall features nightly live music, with jam sessions lasting until 4 a.m., as well as plenty of billiards tables and other games to enjoy.