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Best Jazz Nights in NYC

Joelle Mentis, Staff Writer

Bemelman's Bar Jazz nights

There’s something about the depths of winter that makes you want to be cozy. If you’re going to venture out of your house, you want to be enveloped in a dark, intimate, and warm spot. It’s all about the music, the lighting, and the crowd. In other words, you need a good jazz night out in NYC, and these are the top places to catch a show now.


Location: Upper East Side

You can’t say jazz in NYC without talking about Bemelmans. It’s cozy, it’s beautiful, it’s old school, and the piano jazz is just on point. Bemelmans is an NYC landmark. Located in the Carlyle on the Upper East Side, the artwork is just one of the aspects that makes Bemelmans special. The walls are covered in hand-drawn NYC-themed wallpaper from Ludwig Bemelmans of the Madeline books.

Bemelmans is where you order a classic drink, like a dirty Martini or one of the gin cocktails. Then it’s about siting back and enjoying the the quartet. In other jazz clubs, the quartet might be part of the ambiance. At Bemelmans, the jazz is front and center. The musicians will engage in a friendly conversation and will even play Happy Birthday if you ask nicely. Which brings up a good point — Bemelmans is a perfect winter birthday outing.

You’ll find tourists here, but plenty of tried and true New Yorkers of all generations too. That’s because Bemelmans is in the hall of fame of jazz in NYC. No matter who is in the crowd, doesn’t get more authentic.

Aman Jazz Club

The Location: Midtown

With the arrival of the Aman Jazz club, speakeasies are in.  And the secret entrance to Aman’s only (kind of) public space exudes an exclusivity and privacy from the time you take the freight elevators down. Aman is synonymous with creating precisely the right vibe, and the team hits every mark you want from jazz in NYC.

Once you pass through the back entrance of what feels like an industrial construction zone, you get ushered into a dimly lit room. You’ll think this backdoor is a time portal leading you back to the time of Frank Sinatra. The stage is centered around a Steinway baby grand which gets played all night. That is, at least until the DJs take over and the surprise burlesque show starts.

Behind the music is creative director Brian Newman, who is a six-time Grammy Award nominee. This is, of course, Aman, so you know that if they have a jazz club, it’s going to be top notch. And while you’re here, whether at 8 pm or midnight, your responsibilities include eating truffle grilled cheese and sipping old-school cocktails.

The Nines

The Location: Noho

You’ll see we like a grand piano in our jazz clubs. The Nines is like a downtown version of Bemelman’s. It’s also a hotspot for the effortlessly cool people who live downtown in  Soho and Noho. It may be the first stop on a night out, but it may just be sexiest stop. Expect to see supermodels and beautiful couples who regularly fill the tables. For jazz in NYC, The Nines is one of the best spots at the moment.

At the Nines, the details make the experience a cut above. There’s little that doesn’t exude glamour, from the bold cheetah-print carpet, to velvet and deep burgundies that decorate the room.  And though the songs will be lively, don’t skip dinner for dancing. The food and beverage stand out at The Nines; the caviar potato should be on every table.

The Django

The Location: Tribeca

It’s hard to get sexier than The Nines, and if you can score a reservation at Aman, well, you’re in for the top jazz in NYC. But The Django is the spot if you want to come in a group, or get in with a cool Tribeca crowd. This speakeasy is underneath the Roxy hotel, and it’s the place you can drop in with no pretense at all. Think of it as your neighborhood jazz in NYC. With Paul’s Baby Grand around the back, The Django already draws the kinds of people you want to party with.

The vibe is underground with a combination of slightly grunge but upscale. There are interesting disco balls that shine glittery light over arched ceilings. Adding to the atmosphere is exposed brick, red velvet couches, and worn rugs that make it seem like The Django has been around forever. The larger room can get pretty packed, but the lively crowd ups the excitement for the music. The artists who play are also top-tier; well known jazz greats take the stage every night.

The cherry on top, however, is the food. You should come here hungry. The smoked-salmon deviled eggs must have some secret ingredient, and the chocolate mousse makes the whole experience to die for. Jazz in NYC is better with chocolate.

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