It’s well known that in terms of music venues, New York is a jungle. For decades music genres have formed and flowered throughout the world, with roots in the Big Apple.
That’s in large part because for every genre, there are tons of places to play. Jazz in large part claims New York as one of its capitals because of the diversity of musicians and venues.
We’ve compiled a list of the seven best jazz clubs in NYC because we know not all jazz clubs are created equal. Do you frequent any of these venues? Let us know in the comments!
Birdland Jazz Club
Located in Hell’s Kitchen and just a stone’s throw from Studio 54, Birdland has for decades been one of the most important jazz clubs in the world since 1949.
With a stunning red-plush aesthetic, Birdland is the place to step into the cool and cream of the crop in the jazz world. Famous players make Birdland their home, so if you catch a show here you’re sure to be inspired.
Opened in 1981, founder Danny Bensusan wanted to create a world-class venue for the world’s finest jazz musicians in an intimate and comfortable setting. Located in the storied Greenwich Village neighborhood, Blue Note has attracted astounding talent the likes of Chick Corea John Scofield, and even Dizzy Gillespie.
Blue Note is also great because they provide several regular showcases for up-and-coming jazz musicians. This allows the club to not only be a world-renowned destination for the very best jazz talent, but serves as a jumping point for a new generation of jazz, hip hop, funk, and soul artists.
Smalls Jazz Club
First opened in 1994 as a dingy basement space without a liquor license, Smalls Jazz Club has forged a reputation as one of the best jazz clubs in NYC.
In the spirit of jazz as a resurgent and ever-changing genre, Smalls since its inception was first a jazz club, then a regular bar, only to return as the intimate home of musicians we know today. Many young and up-and-coming musicians claim Smalls as their home, which makes the venue an important incubator for new talent to refresh the style.
The Village Vanguard
Nestled in the heart of Greenwich Village, The Village Vanguard has seen the likes of jazz god John Coltrane and many others perform in these walls.
The Vanguard also has its own orchestra that performs Monday nights. This group of extremely talented musicians truly call the Vanguard home, so you can take in the quintessential Vanguard experience as well as attend a plethora of performances from world-class musicians from all over the world.
The Smoke Jazz and Supper Club
With just over 50 seats, The Smoke is one of the most intimate and best jazz clubs in NYC. Featuring a full-length bar and food menu, you’re sure to enjoy every aspect of this intimate and storied venue seven nights a week.
For the past 40 years, the acoustics of The Smoke have attracted world-class musicians to small crowds again and again. One of the best-sounding venues for acoustic jazz, your ears and tastebuds will be delighted with a night at The Smoke.
A practice space converted into a music venue, Ibeam is easy to miss from the outside.
What makes Ibeam stand out is its place as a bastion for avant-garde styles. While many clubs around NYC focus on more mainstream or easily-palatable jazz, Ibeam has become a home for musicians looking to push the limits,
Guitar god Les Paul called the Iridium home in weekly performances until his passing in 2009. To live up to his name, Iridium has become one of the best venues for live music, live recording, and some of the world’s most sought-after talent.
What makes Iridium stand out is its sound system and live recording chops. Some of these performances will end up released by the club’s own label IridiumLive.