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The “No Tour For Me” Option: Jazz Club Consultation

Gordon Polatnick, Big Apple Jazz

Harlem Jazz Crawl and Harlem Joint Tour guide, Gordon Polatnick.       

When I started leading jazz tours in New York City back in 1997, part of my business model was to cater to those who wanted the insider knowledge without the tour.  I would have been my best client if I were able to split myself into two.  Sometimes you just want to be on a romantic date, or alone at the bar soaking in the sounds and the vibes of a great jazz session.  I used to get requests all the time from groups of guys, or company teams who just wanted to know where they could go to have just the right atmosphere that they envisioned as the perfect jazz night out, where they could be loud and a little drunk without being hushed by purists.  Not all jazz clubs are the same.  Some clubs are made to be quiet as concert halls, and others encourage guests to dance, carry on and let their hair down.  Some in between, where you can easily reserve seats and know you’re going to get good service but if you keep your conversation relatively quiet, no one will hassle you.

After my quarter century of enjoying almost all of NYC’s vast jazz scene – over a hundred shows to choose from a night in the pre-pandemic days – I’ve come to appreciate the differences in atmosphere, musicianship, pricing, crowding, bar scenes, jazz styles, and potential to see some surprise superstars sitting in, or even join the jam yourself at some of the most historic jazz clubs on the planet.  I used to impart this knowledge through an hour-long consultation at a local cafe, then I got too busy to take the time away from running the tour business and scrapped the consultation option all together.

As the pandemic has slowed down tourism to NYC, I now have the time to consult about jazz clubbing again, but I will be doing it by email, or zoom mostly as opposed to meeting clients in person.  A private meeting will incur a surcharge of $100/hour, and an online consultation will be charged at a rate of $100 for up to an hour of time in research and correspondence.

Consultations will be available as gifts as well for the holidays or birthday presents for the jazz fan who has everything but the inside, up-to-date scoop on the NYC jazz scene.  Gift cards are available on this page and can be used by yourselves or emailed as a gift.

Feel free to email me with any questions about this program before you buy:

Some examples on topics for consultations:

1- Where can I go and hear three different styles of jazz in 3 different clubs that are relatively close to each other on a Wednesday?

2- I’m going to be in Harlem all next week and want to play my horn – do you know if there are any sessions that will invite me onstage?

3- Where can I live out my fantasy of going to a speakeasy and hearing a jazz singer like Billie Holiday?

4- I don’t want to be inside clubs but I want to hear jazz, are there any great live jazz sessions outdoors?

5- Which clubs am I likely to get a great table and have no problems with lines, or crowds, or obnoxious staff?

6- Are there clubs where players may show up to hang out after-hours?

7- Where can I go hear the greatest players who are inventing the future sound of jazz?

8- Can you create an itinerary for me to visit a great jazz record store, a non-jazz restaurant in Little Italy, a nearby jazz club with a sophisticated vibe where I can hear a singer and hot instrumentalists for a few sets without having to eat or get kicked out after only an hour?

People don’t realize how customized an experience you can have nightly in NYC to get just the jazz hit that you’re looking for.  The famous clubs have their charms but they’re not all things to all people every night of the week.  If your taste is precise and your time is precious, I can help you make those jazz fantasies come true.  I can also be your personal guide if you would like the company and conversation.  See below for an opportunity to buy a gift card or a private tour.



Gordon Polatnick
Top Cat, Big Apple Jazz, LLC


James Carter and Satish Robertson on Lenox Ave

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We’ll design your private jazz tour based on your tastes and our extensive knowledge of musicians, clubs and speakeasies throughout the city.  We know what is happening nightly on and off-the-beaten-path.