Guide to the Coolest Spots to Hear Live Jazz in Manhattan

Although jazz originated in New Orleans at the end of the 19th century, it soon found a new home in New York City when Duke Ellington moved to Manhattan in the early 1920s. Ellington was followed by an army of jazz musicians who effectively transformed New York into the jazz capital of the world.

In the 1940s, bebop (a faster and more complex type of jazz) was developed and popularized in New York by Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Thelonious Monk (among others). In the 1950s, Miles Davis injected new energy into the New York jazz scene with the invention of "cool jazz." At the end of the ’50s, John Coltrane helped anchor "free jazz" in New York.

Although many of the original clubs where the genre developed and evolved closed long ago, Manhattan is still one of the best places in the world to hear a live jazz show. Here’s a list of our favorite venues that offer jazz performances on a regular basis:

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Blue Note

NYC's best jazz clubs
Photo credit: Blue Note

Perhaps New York’s most well-known jazz club, the Blue Note, in the Village, offers live shows nightly. bluenotejazz.com

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Village Vanguard

Over 80 years old, this Village jazz club is an undeniable epicenter of New York jazz, with a bustling calendar of performances. villagevanguard.com

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Birdland

Named after Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, this NYC jazz club in Midtown has been open for over 65 years and continues to offer several shows each night. birdlandjazz.com

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Jazz Standard

Nightly sets start at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm (cover charges apply). While you’re there, check out the delicious BBQ upstairs at Blue Smoke. jazzstandard.com

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Iridium

Turn up at this leading venue for nightly jazz; the landmark Iridium was substantially renovated in 2015. theiridium.com

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Jazz at Lincoln Center

This prominent jazz center consists of two main performance venues: the Rose Hall and Dizzy’s Club. jalc.org

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Smoke

This jazz and supper-club lounge in Harlem offers dinner and a show every night of the week. smokejazz.com

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Fat Cat

This West Village pool hall features nightly live music, with jam sessions lasting until the wee hours, as well as plenty of billiards tables and other games to enjoy. fatcatmusic.org

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The Cotton Club

This legendary Harlem club hosts dinner and live swing and jazz music by the Cotton Club Allstars, a 13-piece band. cottonclub-newyork.com

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Arthur's Tavern

A West Village institution since 1937, Arthur's Tavern features live jazz, blues, R&B, and Dixieland jazz nightly with no cover charge. arthurstavernnyc.com

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American Legion Post 398 in Harlem

Cheap drinks, delicious soul food, and free Sunday afternoon jam sessions. Seating is limited so show up early. harlemonestop.com

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Andy Statman Trio at the Charles Street Synagogue

Fusing classic Jewish folk music and jazz, the Andy Statman Trio plays a show most Thursday nights at a small synagogue in the Village. andystatman.org

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