Often, when you think of New York, the image that immediately comes to mind is that of its imposing skyline, a series of majestic skyscrapers that seem to compete with each other to reach the sky, but often we forget. of the great cultural contribution that this city has given to the world along its still young history; I'm not just talking about the many wonderful museums and cultural institutions that distinguish it, but also about the incredible musical repertoire that this city has been able to offer over the years.
The great popular musical genres that the Big Apple has left us are essentially 2: the Broadway musical (to which we have dedicated an entire section on this site) and the Jazz, who, arriving from New Orleans, underwent a transformation in New York that spread throughout the world and contaminated all the musical styles of his time. Not surprisingly, the 20s, the so-called "Roaring Twenties", are also remembered as "The Era of Jazz".
During that time, taverns and basements where music was played and alcohol were served illegally (it was the period of Prohibition) spread a little everywhere. What is left of that distant past? How to relive the atmosphere of the Jazz Era? What are the best clubs today where to listen to jazz in New York?
As you can imagine, the offer is varied ... and that's not enough: in addition to attending the "right places" you can also choose to participate in a real tour accompanied by an expert guide, to discover historical clubs and places important for the history of this musical genre. Let's review both possibilities:
- Where to listen to jazz in New York? The best places
- Guided tours dedicated to New York Jazz
Where to listen to jazz in New York? The best places
The possibilities are many, but personally I recommend you to choose between these 4:
- Marjorie Elliot's Parlor Jazz (555 Edgecombe Ave): right in the heart of Harlem, the African American neighborhood par excellence, is this little pearl: Marjorie Elliot opens her private lounge to the public every Sunday afternoon to host fabulous jam sessions (entrance is free but an offer is appreciated).
- Village Vanguard (178 Seventh Ave South): in the heart of the Village there is a rather spartan historic venue, which focuses on the essential. If you are a jazz purist and are especially interested in music you will not be disappointed.
- Jazz Standard (116 E 27th St): large selection of musicians, excellent cuisine and no mandatory minimum drink.
- Birdland Jazz Club (315 W 44th St): right near Times Square is one of the most popular jazz clubs: excellent cuisine and jam sessions of the highest quality.
Guided tours dedicated to New York Jazz
I would like to point out here some tours that I think are interesting, as each one allows you to deepen a different type of experience linked to New York jazz.
- Harlem Jazz Culture Tour: a 5-hour tour along some Harlem jazz clubs accompanied by an expert guide in a small group of participants. If you are a musician there is also the opportunity to participate in a Jam Session as a protagonist!
- Tour serale fra Jazz e Soul Food: a complete experience that includes a visit to one of the historic jazz clubs of the 20s, the Cotton Club, where Duke Ellington performed, and a dinner based on traditional Southern cuisine at Sylvia's Harlem Restaurant, known throughout New York as the queen of Soul Food.
- Tour del Jazz al Village: tour of about 4 hours along the jazz clubs of Greenwich Village, where great jazz players such as Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus and Miles Davis performed.
- Harlem Renaissance Tour: in the 20s jazz was also embraced by an African-American cultural revival movement called Harlem Renaissance: poetry, philosophy, music, literature and art marked the commitment to a new awareness on the part of the black community. This tour will take you to discover the historical places that somehow marked the birth of this movement.
- Evening cruise with jazz music: a cruise in the port of New York accompanied by a jazz band sipping an aperitif, a sort of nostalgic memory of the jazz bands that performed on the historic boats of the Mississippi River.