Despite bleak music industry reports, jazz is very much alive and kickin’! And, if you don’t know where to find it, simply saunter Uptown – where the lion’s share of New York City’s jazz-themed clubs reside, and where neighborhood restaurants have answered the calling by adding live jazz days and nights to the menu. There is no other neighborhood in town that serves up more delight for jazz lovers than Harlem. This Black Music Month and beyond, here is where jazz lives, every day of the week:
- Cheri | Live Jazz Brunch 11-3
Performer, Lady Leah provides the live jazz ambiance for Cheri’s Sunday brunch seating. Enjoy the music and farm-fresh French menu in this elegant living room setting, the backyard patio or the “terrace on Lenox.” Cheri, 231 Lenox Ave., NYC 10027. 212.662,4374 | www.cheriharlem.com
- Harlem Besame | Live Jazz Brunch 12-4pm
Jazz lives during the brunch seating at one of Harlem’s hottest new restaurants: Harlem Besame! Enjoy your meal to a surprising jazz line-up of vocalists and musicans, featuring Lee Olive Tucker & Friends. Harlem Besame, 2070 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. @ 124th Street. | 917.533.4971 | http://harlembesame.com
- Parlor Jazz at Marjorie Eliot’s | Sundays 4pm
Every Sunday, Marjorie Eliot opens the doors of her apartment to anyone who wants to experience the most intimate jazz show in the city. From 4 to 6pm, a revolving crew of performers take center stage with Eliot on piano. No cover; donations accepted. No reservations required, but arrive early for the best seats! Marjorie’s Place, 555 Edgecombe Ave., Apt. 3F. 212.781.6595
- Chez Lucienne | Sunday Night Jazz
This Lenox Avenue French bistro has always had fun with live music – from Latin to funk and R&B. But, Sunday is jazz night at Chez, where you can enjoy mellow jazz with your Parisian cuisine or at the bar. Chez Lucienne, 308 Lenox Avenue, NYC 10027. 212.289.5555 | http://chezlucienne.com
- Minton’s | Nightly & Weekend Jazz Brunch
Harlem’s most legendary jazz club, Minton’s uses an upscale social setting, art and design, to continue the conversation about jazz and Harlem’s cultural heritage. Cover $10-$50 depending on the night/performance. No cover for Friday Late Night Jam Sessions! Dress sharp! Reservations recommended. Minton’s Harlem, 206 West 118th Street. 212.243.2222 | www.mintonsharlem.com
- Paris Blues | Jazz Nightly
For an authentic neighborhood bar and jazz jam experience, Paris Blues is the place to be. Operating since 1969 under the ownership of Samuel Hargress, the venue boast live jazz every night of the week at “Harlem’s Oldest and Only Live Jazz Dive!” Hours are 12pm-3am with music nightly from 9pm-1am; the bar has recently added after hours jams on weekends until 3am! In between sets, enjoy the digital jukebox which plays tunes from any era you like. No cover. Paris Blues, 2021 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. @ 121st Street. NYC 10026. 212.222.9878 | www.parisbluesharlem.com
- American Legion Post #398 | Sunday Afternoons, Weds & Fri nites
A cozy, neighborly venue that’s welcoming to all, American Legion Post offers great music, good food, and the most reasonable drink prices in town! The Sunday afternoon jam session is reported to be one of Harlem’s best! Also, in warm weather months, guests can enjoy the beautiful backyard patio. There is no cover charge or minimum, but visitors are required to sign the guestbook upon entry. American Legion Post, 248 West 132nd Street (bet. 7th & 8th Ave), NYC 10027. 212.283.9701 | http://colchasyoungharlempost398.com
- Harlem Afternoon Jazz Series | Tuesdays 12-2
Artistically directed by trombonist/composer Craig S. Harris, The Harlem Afternoon Jazz Series plays host to some of today’s most talented jazz musicians while paying tribute to history’s greatest jazz music. Designed to be musically as well as spiritually uplifting, the series takes place at Rendall Memorial Presbyterian Church, 59 West 137th Street, NYC 10037. House doors open at 11:30 a.m. every Tuesday. Series extends through June 30th. Tickets are $15. Visit http://welcometoharlem.com/Harlem_Jazz_Series for tickets and info.
- Showman’s Jazz Club | Wednesdays thru Saturdays
Showmans has always been a big hit with jazz enthusiasts, not only in NYC but all over the world! Open since 1942, it is one of Harlem’s premier old-school jazz clubs and a cultural landmark. The club has showcased top musicians and legendary artists such as Sarah Vaughan, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Pearl Bailey, Eartha Kitt, and many more. Their current line up includes a wide variety of contemporary jazz favorites. No cover – two drink minimum. Showman’s, 75 West 125th Street (bet. St. Nicholas & Morningside), NYC 10027. 212.864.8941 | www.showmansjazzclub.com
- Ristorante Settepani | Thursdays 8-11pm
One of Lenox Avenue’s pioneering restaurants, Settepani, has hosted occasional live music events for many years. More recently, they’ve dedicated Thursday as a live jazz night, and continue to feature a wide range of talent from the immediate community and around the world. There is no cover; minimal bar seating is available and, of course, they invite you to join them for dinner! Settepani, 196 Lenox Ave. @ 120th Street, NYC 10026. www.settepani.com
- Bill’s Place | Fridays & Saturdays 8 & 10pm
Led by international sax man, Bill Paxton, Bill’s Place, takes you back to the Uptown underground parlors of the 1920s. Established in 2006, it sits within a row of Harlem brownstones, in the very location once occupied by Swingstreet – a legendary joint where the likes of Billie Holiday, Fats Waller were regulars and guests enjoyed “Bathtub gin” during prohibition. The Harlem All Stars (Paxton’s band) keep straight-ahead jazz alive every Friday and Saturday night with two sets at 8:00 and 10:00pm. This is a dry establishment (no alcohol allowed). Cover $20. Reservations recommended. Bill’s Place, 148 West 133rd Street (btw 7th and Lenox Avenues) NYC 10030. For reservations CLICK HERE or call 212-281-0777 | www.billsplaceharlem.com
- Miller Theater, Columbia University | 2015-16 season
Miller Theatre’s Jazz series presents concerts by both renowned and emerging composers, bandleaders, and musicians from all over the world. In the 2015-16 season, four of the theater’s favorite bandleaders will take you a virtual world tour of jazz, from India to Puerto Rico, Harlem to Brazil. Acts include Anat Cohen, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Stefon Harris, and Miguel Zenón, each of whom make this uniquely American art form their own. Visit www.millertheatre.com/event-series/jazz for dates, tickets and info. Miller also hosts free, seasonal jazz pop up concerts. Click HERE to learn more. Miller Theater, 2960 Broadway @ 116th Street, NYC 10027
Co-founded in 1964 by jazz musician and composer, Dr. William “Billy” Taylor, this not-for-profit arts and cultural organization is still going strong! Every year, Jazzmobile brings free live jazz to more than 100,000 New Yorkers by hosting events in the parks, streets and assorted venues throughout the city. The group hosts an annual jazz vocal competition, Great Jazz on the Great Hill (in Central Park), and Summerfest – a popular series of jazz events taking place all over New York City, including many shows in Harlem. Visit jazzmobile.org for more info.
- National Jazz Museum
This grassroots Harlem museum is keeping the flame alive by preserving and promoting the art of jazz with educational talks and live concerts throughout the neighborhood. The center is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10am to 4pm, and self-guided tours are by donation. The museum also organizes frequent jazz shows, but times and locations vary, so check the website for details. National Jazz Museum, 104 E. 126th St., Suite 2D, jazzmuseuminharlem.org
- Big Apple Jazz Tours
Since 1997, Big Apple Jazz Tours has been on the front lines of the underground Harlem and New York City jazz scenes, taking small groups of visitors down into the basements and alleyways where live jazz still thrives in neighborhood nightclubs. Four-hour Harlem tours are hosted by the charismatic Amanda Humes, who’s sometimes known for singing with the band! Call 917.863.7854 or visit http://www.bigapplejazz.com to book a tour or learn more.
Anyone who thinks the spirit of jazz is waning…hasn’t been to Harlem!