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Jazz clubs hold some of New York’s best stories- If you’re a true New Yorker, you would know. No matter if you’re looking for a place to go for a Night out, a date, or just some music, I can guarantee that there is a jazz club out there for you. 

Many jazz clubs have just started to open back up after a year of lockdown. Here are some of my favorites. 

Birdland

If your date takes you to Birdland- it’s an immediate green flag. This guy has got class and taste. You immediately get the movie-like date experience when you follow the waiter into the Jazz club. With Birdland’s dim lights, spaced out seating, and fine dining (food is chef’s kiss), I could not imagine how a date could go wrong here. 

Located in Times Square, the venue holds around 200 people. Though it sounds like a lot, trust me, their seating arrangements somehow allows each customer to have at least an acceptable view of the stage. 

Nonetheless, Birdland is not only worth going for because of its looks- The Jazz Club is rich with history. First opening its doors in 1949, Birdland has not always been the Jazz club we recognize today. The place started out as a hardcore nightclub, but after a series of drama involving its money hungry owners, a murder mystery case, and a shift in the common music taste, the club ultimately went bankrupt 1964. It was not until 1985 when Birdland’s current owner completely changed the club’s style and brought it back onto its feet. 

So if you’re looking to go to a place with good food, exquisite performances, and rich New York history, you and Birdland would be the perfect match. 

Tickets Cost per person- $30(bar seats) or $40(table seating) +$6 fee + minimum purchase of $20 on food or drinks. It is not cheap, but definitely worth the money IMO. 

Village Vanguard

Looks familiar, doesn’t it? That’s because the movie Soul was based on this very Jazz Club! 

Village Vanguard is a small jazz club in West Village that holds quite a place in the Jazz world. First opened its doors in 1935, it is the oldest running Jazz club in NYC- It was where many classic Jazz albums were recorded, including those by Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Bill Evans. 

Performing every day of the week, the Jazz club only holds around 120 people. However, this makes their atmosphere relaxing and the performance more personal- musicians are interactive with their audiences, and if you’re lucky, they might even ask you for a song recommendation to play. 

Take note that Village Vanguard makes sure everyone gets their money’s worth by forcing their audiences to live under the moment- no cameras are allowed during performances. So heads up Gen-Zs, an hour without looking at instagram stories won’t make you miss much. (I was one of those that got caught recording, took one for the team:”) )

Overall it’s the perfect place to go on those friday nights where you don’t want to get too crazy, but don’t want to stay in either. 

Tickets Cost per person- $35 + minimum purchase of 1 drink

Blue Note

Located in Greenwich Village, pretty sure all the NYU kids have heard of this one. 

Blue note, though opened relatively recently compared to the other Jazz clubs in 1981, has managed to spread its name around the world. It has over ten branches located in places including California, Italy, and even in Hawaii and Japan.

Similar to Birdland, Bluenote also gives you an excuse to dress up and one can always count on them for the best performances- they always have the big names and most popular musicians of the time playing at their clubs. 

Fun fact: Pianist Chick Corea used to host his birthdays here every year before he passed away last year:(. He would invite his fellow musician friends to perform with him throughout his birthday week. 

If you’re a morning person, it’s time to put Jazz Brunch at Blue Note on your bucket list. What is unique about them is that they do not only perform during nights, but they do Jazz Brunches every Saturday as well! 

So if you’re feeling bougie or would like to treat yourself (as you should) book a ticket to Blue Note, you won’t regret it!

Tickets Cost per person- $35 (Sun-Thurs) or $40 (Fri-Sat)  + minimum purchase of 1 drink

Dizzy’s Club

Perfect in its own way, Dizzy’s is the place to be if you’re looking for something between Birdland and Bluenote in terms of bougieness. It is named after one of the greatest trumpeters of all time, so the experience you’re getting is definitely one of a kind. 

You can find both up and coming artists or some of the biggest names in jazz located on the 5th floor of Time Warner Center, where your favorite performers play with the backdrop of Central Park and Manhattan’s famous skyline. 

Compared to Birdland, you can expect a similarly warm ambiance in a more intimate setting with around 140 seats, each served with New Orlean soul food with a sophisticated twist. Performances at Dizzy’s will be held 7 days a week, satisfying even the most spontaneous souls. 

All in all, Dizzy’s is the place to go if you’re looking for some of the best jazz in the city while switching up the venue by literally taking it to the next level.

Tickets Cost per person- $35  + minimum purchase of $10 for food or drinks

Small’s

Small’s is like it’s name- small. But this jazz club has a reputation that is twice its size. In the 90s, Smalls’s is where many young rising jazz talents of the time received their spotlight, including Ehud Asherie, Omer Avital, and Noah Becker. 

It started out with performances that began at 10 and lasted until 6 in the morning, and through some difficulties and a reopening in 2006, Small’s grew out of its gritty, hardcore early days and re-entered the scene with improved sound quality and a full service bar. Today, Small’s offers an online subscription plan to watch both live and archived performances, a timely transition for our Covid plagued world. 

A cozy, intimate setting coupled with a history of dedication towards fostering world-class jazz talent and nothing else, Small’s is the go-to not only for jazz enthusiasts but also first timers that are prepared to be blown away by some of the best jazz you could possibly look for. 

Tickets Cost per person- $20 Entrance Fee

Nublu

Last one. Are none of the Jazz clubs above quirky enough for you? See you at Nublu then. 

Nublu is the unexpected love child between jazz, African, South American, Caribbean, electronic, and dance music. Born in 2002, it’s just as much of a Gen-Z as any of us. It has its own record label founded by Swedish-Turkish saxophonist Ilhan Ersahin, associated with bands such as The Brazilian Girls, Forro in the Dark, Love Trio, and Wax Poeti, all coming together to form their signature fusion jazz music called the “Nublu Sound”. 

As quirky as it is, a lot of big names in music known to be revolutionary and avant-garde can be found performing at Nublu, such as Butch Morris, John Zorn, Sun Ra Arkestra or Mark Whitfield. 

So different from all the other jazz clubs, its stage is set in the middle of the venue’s dance floor, so that music would be central to the patrons’ eclectic experience. The interior largely resembled a nightclub, with minimal seating and walls accessorized with multicolor neon lights. In 2012, no longer to contain its eccentric energy, the club went through a Nublu fission, which resulted in a new location opening 4 blocks north of Nublu classic, named Nublu 151. 

For an unconventional musical experience, pay both Nublus a visit in the East Village!

Tickets Cost per person- $20 Entrance Fee

Isabel is a sophomore at NYU and she is still between majors. During her free time, she likes to walk around the city and go window shopping. Her life tip for everyone is that when you're feeling down, just walk into a high-end clothing store, try some clothes on, and let the sales person hype you up. ;)
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