About

Our Story


We started in 1997 as a guide service specializing in the music scenes of New York City. We are the recognized leader in introducing visitors, businesses, and student groups to the world capital of jazz. From Harlem’s history and hidden jazz haunts to the nation’s greatest clubs in the Village and Midtown Manhattan – We not only show you where it’s at, we introduce you to all the cats!

“This tour, hosted by New York jazz expert Gordon Polatnick, is the real deal for jazz buffs.”

~ Brian Silverman Frommer’s NYC 2017 & NYC For Dummies.

Big Apple Jazz Tours welcomes individual jazz fans as well as corporate and school groups wishing to get off-the-beaten-path and down into the alleyways and basements where live jazz still thrives in hidden nightclubs from Harlem to Greenwich Village. Our tours of New York City jazz always include thrilling musicians and fascinating sightseeing.

Since we are a well-rounded step-on guide service with friendly and knowledgeable guides covering all subjects and in all languages, we encourage you to call us with any tour related questions. We will set up a phone appointment to discuss your needs and produce a unique itinerary, then match you with the perfect guide to suit your interests, schedule, budget, and style.

Meet Your Guides


 

Gordon
  • Chevron down Gordon Polatnick
  • Gordon is the founder of Big Apple Jazz Tours.

    What started as a personal challenge to discover and document all of New York’s hundreds of jazz joints and to establish Harlem’s first jazz day club, has now blossomed into his life’s work. For more than 20 years, Gordon has enhanced a lifetime of tour guiding with a lifetime romance with jazz. Every night he chooses a variety of the best hidden performances and maps out a route that illustrates the story of jazz in the most exciting and personalized way. His passion for authenticity is contagious.

    5-STAR TRIPADVISOR REVIEW

    Best night in NYC

    “Gordon took 6 of us around to several jazz clubs in Harlem. All had a distinct feel with different types of music. We went to places we would have never found on our own. We did not know the area and it was invaluable to have a friendly, knowledgeable local tour guide.”

    W. Padgett from Wisconsin


    This Was Freakin’ Awesome!

    So great! You have to do this if you like any music at all. Gordon is fantastic! His passion and lifelong love affair with jazz is infectious!

    The music was fabulous! We mixed with the band at the second stop and that was really special! The guitarist played with Dizzy Gillespie and other band members had played with George Benson (one of my personal favorites!) and more. Totally cool cats!

    Gordon decided to change our third destination on the spot because he just got some new information about a singer. How plugged into the scene is that! She was great, too and really connected with us. All three clubs were local intimate places so you weren’t one of tons of people.

    Gordon was so generous as to give us a recommendation for after the theater tonight that clearly is not a place someone not in the scene could find (you’ll have to take the tour to find out why!)

    I can’t say enough great things about this. We’ll be talking about it forever. Take the tour. Get up and dance (we did!). No rules, everybody’s cool. Adults young and old will love this! Gordon, I am so glad you do this!

    You. Are. Awesome!

    Meg from Washington DC

Amanda gardenia
  • Chevron down Amanda Humes
  • There’s no one in New York City like Amanda!

    Equal parts sass, smarts, and customer service – Amanda is the Harlem resident, Columbia University graduate, and Jazz Diva supreme who shows you the best of the best in her own backyard. Feel the beat of the street, and take in the sights and sounds that make Harlem sizzle with excitement. Amanda knows everyone and no one could ever forget Amanda. Her intimate Harlem tours are legendary.

    5-STAR TRIPADVISOR REVIEW

    Amazing Amanda

    “Myself and my husband and two friends had the amazing Amanda take us on her jazz tour of Harlem we would love to thank her for a wonderful experience. She was a ray of sunshine and fun and went above and beyond… She was a wealth of information and we learnt so much about the history of jazz in Harlem and the people. She treated us like long lost friends not clients and we all thank her for the fantastic experience that she gave us. Thanks Amanda we will never forget our wonderful time with you.”

    Jane, Sean, Cath and Stephen from Australia

     

    Great Daytime Harlem Tour & Night Time Jazz Speakeasy for Teens and Adults with Amanda Humes

    Barbara and I have taken Amanda Humes’  jazz tours of Harlem several times in the past few years.  This year, we brought our 14-yr. old granddaughter and her best friend for their first trip to NYC.  Amanda developed a daytime Harlem experience for these girls that was outstanding. She took them to memorials to Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Duke Ellington, and others, while telling stories that are seldom found in textbooks.  Her high energy and enthusiasm were infectious. She ended the tour at her college, Columbia University. Very imposing to a couple of small-town teenagers.  

    The following evening, we took the girls to a live jazz performance at Gin Fizz Harlem.  To their surprise, Amanda was the master of ceremonies that night and sat us at the first table in front of the stage.  She called them her “Darlings” and made sure they were treated as her special guests for their first experience with live jazz.  

    Amanda Humes and Big Apple Tours made our trip to NYC a very special, never to be forgotten experience.  

    Don and Barbara from Cocoa, FL