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10 Best Jazz Concerts in New York

If there's one thing we love about New York, it's its wonderful jazz culture. In the Big Apple, this tradition is so deep-rooted that it's not hard to find good concerts.

Andressa García

Andressa García

10 min read

10 Best Jazz Concerts in New York

Jazz in New York | ©Zhang Yu

Since the 1930s, New York City has been a jazz culture hotspot and since then it hasn't stopped offering good musicians and, above all, good shows. If you're looking for interesting things to do in New York at night, this has to be one of them.

One advantage New York has for jazz lovers is that you don't have to wait for a big concert to enjoy live jazz music. Every night in the far reaches of the city, top-notch artists perform in bars that have become popular for presenting great music. I'll tell you where to see the best shows.

1. Make yourself at home at the Smoke Jazz Club & Supper Club

Smoke Jazz Club| ©Landy Phelong
Smoke Jazz Club| ©Landy Phelong

This is a rather peculiar place because you won't feel like you're in a club, but rather in a lounge because the place has thick curtains and a sofa instead of tables. With this atmosphere, this is one of the best places to enjoy jazz in the city, as well as being one of the top 20 things to do and see in Manhattan.

This place is located on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, which is one of the most affluent areas of New York. Nearby is Columbia University, one of the most important universities in the United States.

To go to the shows that are presented in this place you will have to make a reservation in advance because not only does it offer shows every night, but there are also special shows for which you have to pay a little more money to get in.

Details of interest

  • Price: Depending on the show that is presented at the venue, you can find tickets from 35 euros per person.
  • Location: Located at 2752 Broadway Avenue.
  • Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday from 4pm to midnight.

2. Get down to the jazz basement at 55 Bar

55 Bar| ©Nick Wang
55 Bar| ©Nick Wang

Since 1919 this bar, which was once a speakeasy, has maintained the vibe that has characterised it since the beginning of its history. The thing about this place is that it is located in a New York basement, so it is a small place but with an atmosphere worth enjoying.

If you want to listen to good jazz, you can visit 55 Bar, which offers concerts throughout the week. However, there is a downside to this place and that is that they do not offer meals, nor do they offer snacks to buy during the time you are enjoying jazz at the venue. You only have the opportunity to buy drinks inside the venue.

Although the menu that only includes cocktails and drinks may be a disadvantage in many cases, you should know that this is a tradition in many of New York's historic jazz bars.

Many of them from the beginning of their operations functioned only as music bars, and no food was offered to their visitors, so they maintain the tradition to this day. Nevertheless, this is definitely an experience not to be missed.

Interesting details

  • Price: Admission is free, but you have to consume two drinks during the show. When there are special shows, the entrance can cost from 15 euros.
  • Location: Located on Christopher St. in the heart of Greenwich Village.
  • Opening hours: The bar opens from 5pm.

3. Travel back in time by going to the Village Vanguard

Village Vanguard| ©katsumasa
Village Vanguard| ©katsumasa

Here you can experience the authentic New York experience of the 1930's. In fact, the bar was opened in the 1930's and was a speakeasy back then. It still hosts top jazz and blues artists today, so if you book a visit here, you might be lucky enough to catch a show with the greats of the genre.

The ambience of the place is one of the highlights because not only do you have the opportunity to listen to good music, but you can also enjoy a special atmosphere for dinner with friends or your partner. As it still retains its special underground atmosphere, it is one of those secret places and original plans that you can't miss in New York.

One tip that will surely come in handy is that you should arrive at least 30 minutes before the concert starts, otherwise you may not be able to get a table to enjoy the show. Also, another thing you can do is to make a reservation well in advance.

Interesting details

  • Price: When there are special shows the ticket can cost from 30 euros, with the possibility of making a reservation in advance. But as a general rule the entrance fee is approximately 25 euros per person.
  • Location: Located at 178 7th Avenue St. in New York.
  • Hours: You can enter to get your seats for the show from 19:00 onwards. But the shows start at 20:00.

4. Listen to great artists at Blue Note

Blue Note| ©Nicolas Hoizey
Blue Note| ©Nicolas Hoizey

If there's one place in the world famous for a good jazz show, it's the Blue Note in New York. Here you can enjoy the most special jazz evenings, while also getting the chance to sample some of New York's fine cuisine.

It is an international jazz venue whose main venue is in New York but other venues are located in the most important capitals of the world such as Tokyo, Milan and Seoul. You can enjoy these performances every night from 8pm onwards. You are guaranteed to see a jazz show because this place even has its own record label.

You have to wait at least an hour before seeing the show, but the wait is definitely worth it. In order to get into the venue you have to make a reservation beforehand to avoid missing out on your seat at the show.

Interesting details

  • Price: You need to book in advance and depending on the show, you can pay a ticket from 30 euros per person.
  • Location: Located at 131st of 3rd in New York.
  • Hours: For shows that start at 20:00 the entrance is at 18:00. While for shows starting at 22:30, the entrance is at 22:00.

5. Meet Birdland, the Actors' Club

Birdland| ©Michele Chiles
Birdland| ©Michele Chiles

One of the most wonderful things about this place is that you can bring children because they accept people of all ages. So if you want a good night spot to entertain teenagers, Birdland is a good place. As far as jazz shows go, this is one of the best places in New York to enjoy good concerts.

As of 2018 they opened a lower level where you can enjoy plays, while the ground level is still the place to go for the best jazz shows. If you're lucky, you might even catch an artist or two enjoying the jazz shows that are presented every night.

You can liven up your evening while enjoying a good jazz concert with southern food with a Cajun twist. If you go to the theatre downstairs, you can enjoy a completely different menu.

Interesting details

  • Price: You don't have to pay to enter the Birdland but you do have to pay a minimum of 20 euros per person.
  • Location: Located at 315 West 44th Street in New York City.
  • Hours: Jazz performances are at 19:00 and 21:30. It is recommended that you make a reservation before going to the bar.

6. Experience the speakeasy experience at Bill's Place

Bill's Place| ©Matthew X. Kiernan
Bill's Place| ©Matthew X. Kiernan

Bill's Place is one of the most storied speakeasies in the United States. It survived the speakeasy era and is now an icon of jazz culture in the city. Right in the heart of Harlem, you can enjoy some of the most authentic jazz shows in the city, and this is one of the places you have to visit to learn about the history of jazz in Harlem.

Nowadays, the performances are truly amazing, and one of the most sought-after shows is Bill Saxton's, which you can enjoy along with the Harlem Star on Friday and Saturday nights.

One of the best stories this bar has to tell is that one of the best female voices in jazz, Billie Holliday, who in her time was an insistent fighter for the social rights of African-Americans, was discovered and sang for a long time within its walls.

Another thing you'll love about listening to jazz at this venue is that you can bring your own bottle to celebrate and drink while you enjoy the jazz. The best part is that the atmosphere here is completely authentic to the Prohibition era and speakeasies in America in the 1930s.

Interesting details

  • Price: Tickets for this place usually cost from 30 euros per person.
  • Location: Located between 7th and Lenox Avenue at 148 133rd St.
  • Hours: Shows are at 7pm and 9pm every Friday and Saturday night.

Reserve your tickets to the jazz concert series in Harlem

7. Discover where Louis Armstrong played, Minton's

Minton's| ©harlemfur
Minton's| ©harlemfur

Minton's is also a great place to listen to jazz and see great jazz shows. In fact, one of the best things about this place is that one of the greatest jazz performers, Louis Armstrong, played here and it was one of the places that saw him become a star.

The history of this place makes you not only want to spend a good time listening to good concerts, but also want to take a lot of pictures inside the iconic music establishment. A real spectacle if you are a lover of blues and jazz.

One of the best things about this place is that not only can you enjoy jazz, but unlike other venues of this style, you do have the option of eating something to eat while you watch the music. The food options are varied and there is something for everyone.

Interesting details

  • Price: Admission is free but you must eat inside if you want to stay for the shows.
  • Location: 206 West Manhattan at 118th Street.
  • Hours: Thursday to Saturday between 18:00 and 23:30.

8. Stay close to the stage at Iridium

Iridium| ©Billy Branch
Iridium| ©Billy Branch

Iridium has something special to offer its visitors during jazz shows. They offer tables very close to the stage, so you can watch the jazz singers and performers from up close. Reservations are mandatory because the venue is not open when there are no shows.

At Iridium you will not only see jazz performances, but also other genres of music, such as blues. It is one of the most emblematic places that you can't fail to include among the activities to do in the city, regardless of the best time you choose to visit New York, because you can also consume special cocktails and good food while you enjoy the show.

Something special about this place is that you can attend both public and private shows. In the first case, the entrance is completely free, but in the second case, I recommend you to make reservations well before the time of the performance, so that you can secure your place in the show.

Although the venue has the authentic speakeasy atmosphere of 1930s New York, the bar only opened its doors in 1994. The musical offerings vary from month to month and in plenty of time they post on their website all the artists that will be on stage during the month.

Interesting details

  • Price: Tickets to the shows will depend on the artist performing, but generally ticket prices start from 30 euros.
  • Location: It's located at 1650 Broadway in New York, at the 51st corner of Broadway.
  • Hours: Entry time depends on the show you're attending, so keep an eye on the Iridium Bar's official website for the time.

9. Enjoy the good blues at Terra Blues

Terra Blues| ©Elie Matz
Terra Blues| ©Elie Matz

This place is different from others of its kind because of the large number of bands that play there. In addition, you have the option of enjoying different drink and food options while you enjoy the show.

You will not only be able to enjoy jazz, but also other musical rhythms such as blues. One of the advantages of this venue is that in its many decades of history it has seen the birth and development of many jazz music legends.

To go and see a good show of this musical genre, I recommend you visit the official website of this place and see the events that will be held at the time you visit the city. There are shows every day in the evenings.

There are whole jazz bands playing here as well as certain artists such as guitarists and saxophonists with enough fame and recognition. This ranks as one of the best places to see jazz in New York because it emulates the old days of New York jazz.

Details of interest

  • Price: Ticket prices depend on the type of show performed at the venue.
  • Location: Located at 149 Bleecker Street in New York City.
  • Schedule: Shows start at 18:30 for some performances while other performances start at 21:30 and 22:00.

10. Don't miss jazz shows at Lincoln Center

Lincoln Center| ©Mei Cheng
Lincoln Center| ©Mei Cheng

Lincoln Center is a great place to see some of the best jazz concerts in New York. This venue hosts different shows throughout the year, but when it comes to jazz culture, this is definitely one of the best places to see the best artists of the genre.

The best thing about this place to see concerts is that there is a concert season every year, so the shows are always fully dedicated. The venue is big enough to receive a large number of people who come to see jazz and other musical rhythms.

Jazz events at Lincoln Center usually take place in the summer season, when the weather in New York allows for much more enjoyment of the city. So this is an excellent activity to include among the things to see and do in New York in the summer.

Details of interest

  • Price: Depending on the performances at Lincoln Center, you will have to pay more or less money. The price of each show can be found on the official website. Although sometimes the performances are open to the public, so you should check the shows online before attending.
  • Location: It is located in Lincoln Square in New York.
  • Hours: Generally shows start at 18:00 every night.