New York, New Orleans aside, is the best place to go to enjoy an unforgettable live jazz show, especially in the Harlem neighbourhood. If you want to experience this during your stay in the Big Apple, here are some clubs and venues where the magic happens every night.
Get your tickets for the Jazz Series concerts in Harlem now if you want to go to a live show on your own. Or if you want an expert to tell you all about jazz and take you around Harlem like a local, you can join a tour of jazz venues. Ready for an unforgettable experience?
1. Bill's Place
If you want to spend a fun evening in Harlem listening to authentic jazz, you won't find a more authentic place than Bill's Place. This is not a trendy bar where you can listen to music while you have a few drinks, but a simple lounge where small groups congregate to hear founder Bill Saxton play.
The curious thing about Bill's Place is the size of the room, so tiny that all the seats are in the front row facing the stage, making the experience exclusive and almost private.
Bill's Place is located in the area known as Swing Street in the Prohibition era because of the speakeasies and jazz clubs that opened here at night. Interestingly, nowadays alcohol is not allowed in the club but you are welcome to bring your own drinks.
- Address: 148 W.133rd St.
- Open: Fridays and Saturdays.
Jazzmobile is the first non-profit arts and cultural organisation created to promote and preserve jazz. They offer high quality jazz performances and have already reached more than 4,000,000 people who visit or live in New York.
Jazzmobile organizes performances during the summer in concert halls, in the park or on the street. On this page of their website you can see their calendar of performances. Check it out if you're interested, and include the ones that interest you most in your travel itinerary.
- Price: the performances are completely free, as it is a non-profit organisation.
3. Ginny's Supper Club
Ginny's Supper Club is the modern reincarnation of those glamorous and clandestine neighbourhood bars that in the 1920s skirted the prohibitions of Prohibition to give their customers a good time at night.
Its owner is chef Marcus Samuelsson (the owner of the famous Red Rooster Harlem restaurant mentioned in the post Where to eat in Harlem) who came up with the idea of opening a second restaurant in the basement of the Red Rooster Harlem with a secret entrance for dinners with live music.
And what a success! At Ginny's Supper Club you'll enjoy a casual atmosphere with great live music, the best Southern food and delicious Harlem-inspired creative cocktails like the "Harlem Mule" or the "Brownstoner".
- Address: 310 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10027
- Open: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
4. Marjorie Eliot's Parlor
There will be no other place in Harlem where you can have a more intimate jazz listening experience than in the living room of pianist Marjorie Eliot' s Sugar Hill flat.
For more than 10 years since she lost her son, every Sunday at 3:30 PM the lovely Ms. Eliot delights audiences with a free, informal concert accompanied by talented musicians who mingle with the audience in her living room.
These concerts are exciting because they are more like a gathering of friends who come together to enjoy music and have a good time than a show. During the breaks, the musician serves some snacks and even stops to chat with people for a while before resuming the performance. Remember to bring some spare cash for the performers' tips.
- Address: 555 Edgecombe Ave, Apartment 3F at 160th St, Washington Heights.
- Open: Sundays.
5. Harlem Nights
Located in the heart of Harlem, Harlem Nights is a homey bar that offers all visitors a relaxed atmosphere, both indoors, outdoors and on the summer terrace.
On Mondays they host open mic sessions where you can sometimes find jazz bands playing and delighting diners who can enjoy an extensive menu.
- Location: 2361 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York
- Hours: Monday to Friday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., and weekends from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m.
6. St. Patrick's Place
Patrick's Place is one of those places you go to when you want to feed your senses, specifically your sense of hearing and taste. It's a fabulous Jamaican restaurant that offers live jazz shows on Friday and Saturday nights for anyone in the mood for a good time in Harlem.
If your two passions are music and food, don't hesitate to visit Patrick's Place and let yourself be carried away by its relaxed atmosphere, listening to the best sounds of jazz and, of course, the best Caribbean food. You'll feel right at home!
- Address: 2835 Frederick Douglass Blvd (8th Ave and 151st )
- Open: Fridays and Saturdays.
If you'd like to hear an independent jazz sound from new talent in a creative atmosphere, the Shrine in Harlem is the place to go.
Founded in 2007 by music lovers in the artistic epicentre of New York, the Shrine will surprise you with the most modern and innovative musical and artistic proposals of the present.
Shrine's programme includes several genres apart from jazz, such as indie-rock, R&B, Gospel (did you know that you can attend a Gospel mass in Harlem as an audience?), funk, etc. So if you're more interested in jazz, before going to the venue I recommend you take a look at their calendar.
- Address: 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10030,
- Open: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Although not a jazz club per se, the Silvana coffeehouse has a speakeasy atmosphere with a basement where you can attend live music shows where you can let yourself be carried away by the jazz sound and other interesting musical offerings such as reggae, funk, house, hip-hop or African music.
The room has cabaret-style tables near the stage where you can sit and listen to the concert while sipping a delicious cocktail or a glass of Italian or French wine. Complete the experience by ordering a dish from the Middle Eastern-inspired menu, such as hummus, falafel or shawarma.
East and West mingle in Silvana's basement with the best jazz music in the background. To find out for sure when they play jazz music in the basement, I recommend you check their programme before you go.
- Address: 300 W. 116th Street (SW corner of Frederick Douglass Blvd/8th Ave)
- Open: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
The Smoke is one of those New York Jazz & Supper Clubs where you go for the good music and stay for the tasty food - a double joy!
The venue is famous for having a programme of world-renowned jazz artists that competes with the excellent American bistro-style food prepared in its kitchens by the prestigious chef Patricia Williams.
A highly recommended place to enjoy an unforgettable night out in New York to the sound of the best music of the genre.
- Address: 2751 Broadway (between 105th / 106th St.)
- Open: Tuesday to Sunday.