Iridium Jazz Club's sapphire-hued stage plays host to a star-studded cast of classic jazz performers, traditional blues bands, and masterful rock musicians with nightly all-ages shows punctuated by a slate of gourmet steaks and pastas. Honoring the late Les Paul's regular Monday-night Iridium performance that continued for more than a decade, a slew of famed guitarists such as Ted Nugent and Jeff Beck sit in with the legend's original trio for eclectic weekly tribute shows. Patrons pair the savory syncopation with a menu of artfully crafted dishes ranging from Black Angus steaks and Kobe-style burgers to house-made organic pastas. Armed with a full bar, drinksmiths sling martinis, beers, and wine selections from a cellar stocked with nearly 200 vintages.
Harlem Spirituals' professional guides maneuver sightseers through a five-hour evening bus tour of Harlem's historical music venues and soul-food restaurants. Explore the sites of the original Cotton Club and Savoy Ballroom, where Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman regularly vibrated air particles with their big-banded boisterousness. The tour route also slides past the grand Apollo Theater and the intimate Minton's Playhouse, where Miles Davis famously abandoned his career of drawing mustaches on portraits of Senator Joe McCarthy to develop bebop. Tours also make a pit stop at neighborhood mainstay Sylvia's Restaurant to sample authentic southern soul food. Nosh on fried chicken and black-eyed peas or muffle the sounds of shrieking trumpets by stuffing ears with collard greens.
Despite its name, Jazz Standard isn’t exactly a standard jazz club. For starters, it’s quite spacious—sizable, well-spaced tables seat up to 100 people in a colorful space that New York Magazine called “a world away from the low-ceilinged, cramped clubs of the West Village.” There is a cover but no drink minimum, though patrons are welcome to order from a drink list with specialty cocktails such as Coltrane’s Resolution, a harmonious blend of sparkling wine, Lillet, and blood-orange juice that takes at least nine minutes to finally finish. The spirits pair with a menu of barbecue from Blue Smoke, the sister restaurant upstairs, which crafts a saucy selection of chipotle chicken wings, Kansas City–style spareribs, and housemade potato chips that were featured on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Of course, the main draw is the music, which gets an added oomph from the club’s state-of-the-art sound system. With two sets every night and a third late set on Fridays and Saturdays, Jazz Standard is able to feature a large spread of both local up-and-comers and internationally renowned musicians. Charles Mingus legacy bands take the stage every Monday, and the rest of the calendar divides its time between rising stars such as Zach Brock and perennial favorites including Geri Allen. In the past, the stage has even borne heavyweights such as Fred Hersch and Academy Award and Grammy Award winner André Previn.
Just under the corner of 78th and Columbus sits 78 Below, a gathering place where patrons can have a drink, listen to tunes, or share small plates with friends. Primarily a live music venue, 78’s stage area entices musicians with a legendary back line that includes such house equipment as a Yamaha Motif synthesizer that belonged to jazz icon Henry Butler and a full Pearl drumset used by Chris Parker when he played for Bob Dylan. Performances occur nightly, and feature regulars such as former Blues Brothers band member Jonny Rosch as well as surprise singers that have included Amy Grant, Sheryl Crow, and gifted janitors after the staff has gone home.
Outside of the stage area sits a cocktail lounge furnished with mod couches where guests order from a succinct menu of American-style tapas. Alongside beer, wine, and cocktails from the bar, sliders made with crab cakes and Angus-beef patties mingle with grilled four-cheese sandwiches in dishes small enough to keep hands free for unsolicited keyboard solos.
The stage at Garage Restaurant & Cafe has hosted the saxophone-shredding, piano-pounding, guitar-plucking performances of more than 55 rotating jazz performers. These live acts range from solo artists to sextets and from crooners to percussionists, each of whom is versed in a range of jazz styles. As their musical stylings wash over the Greenwich Village eatery and its sidewalk patio during brunch and late-night dinners, Garage's chefs turn out gourmet dishes. Roquefort cheese-topped filet mignon, sauteed cakes of Maryland crab and Maine lobster, and flame-grilled cornish game hen keep audiences fueled for late-night listening or long, drawn out conversations in which they say nothing but "daddy-o." A raw bar, meanwhile, showcases selections of oysters and clams.
Knowing that classic cocktails and jazz go hand-in-hand, Garage's bartenders shake and stir more than 20 eclectic martinis. They can also pour from a collection of more than 80 international wines.
On any given night, a guest at Blue Note might be pulled onstage to sit in on a jazz standard. This would merely qualify as another of the club’s charming eccentricities, were that guest not typically someone like Stevie Wonder, Liza Minnelli, or Quincy Jones. New York’s musical royalty frequents Blue Note to hear original, historical jazz, as well as the innovative genres that the club passionately supports. They look on approvingly as the rising stars of the soul, hip hop, funk, and pantomime scenes blaze sonic trails between the stage’s parted blue curtains. These performers fill the atmosphere with smooth sounds on most nights of the week, and their exquisite talents are matched by a menu of pan-roasted salmon, marinated skirt steak, and grilled baby-back ribs.