Venues throughout the West Village have played host to the most well-known names in jazz history, and many clubs are still entertaining New Yorkers to this day.
131 W. 3rd St. between Macdougal Street and Sixth Avenue
Blue Note (Image: DIY thing/Flickr)
For more than 35 years, Blue Note has been touted as one of the premier jazz clubs in the world. Big names like Tito Puente and Dizzy Gillespie sought out the stage at Blue Note — a more intimate, cozy venue when compared to the theaters they’d grown used to — and Quincy Jones, Liza Minnelli, and Tony Bennett have been called onstage to perform after being spotted in the crowd. The club also showcases up-and-coming jazz talent from New York City and beyond. A look at the schedule for February reveals can’t-miss nights with the likes of Ms. Lisa Fischer on Valentine’s Day, and New Orleans sons Kermit Ruffins and Ivan Neville later in the month.
178 Seventh Ave. at Waverly Place
Village Vanguard (Image: Harold Navarro/Flickr)
Continuing a more than 80-year tradition of live music excellence, highlighted by the numerous albums recorded at the venue, the hype of the Village Vanguard doesn’t seem to ever dwindle. Like the rest of the neighborhood, the Village Vanguard welcomed talent from all over the musical spectrum and the performing arts, including folk music and stand-up comedy, before becoming a strict jazz club in 1957. John Coltrane performed in this West Village jewel decades ago, and today, his talented son Ravi is a frequent act. Thelonious Monk was an unknown before he took to the stage at the Village Vanguard, and on any given night, jazz’s next big thing might make an unwitting appearance. The upcoming schedule features the Miguel Zenón Quartet, Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas and Craig Taborn, to name a few.
55 Christopher Street at Seventh Avenue
55 Bar (Image: Richard Russell/Flickr)
A prohibition-era dive bar with live jazz, funk, and blues every evening, 55 Bar is a plain-jane venue where the focus is firmly on the music. Early-evening sets are free, setting a most unpretentious tone, and visitors can expect to be exposed to myriad jazz stylings from the likes of Sweet Georgia Brown and Nate Birkey. Keep an eye on the 55 Bar calendar for upcoming shows.
57 Grove St. near Seventh Avenue
Arthur’s Tavern (Image: Allison Meier/Flickr)
Set in a landmarked building, Arthur’s Tavern opened way back in 1937 to bring the best in jazz and blues downtown. Today, you can expect to hear rhythm-and-blues and Dixieland acts as well, and there’s an intimate piano bar separate from the main hall. All shows are free with a two-drink minimum (cash only), and the daily lineup is littered with tried-and-true stage veterans. If Arthur’s Tavern was good enough for Charlie Parker, you’ll definitely want to see it for yourself.