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Big Apple Jazz Blog

What kind of jazz fan are you?

         With almost every important jazz musician from around the world spending at least some portion of their career here in New York City since the 1910’s, we are blessed with a jazz tradition that is deep and varied and has only grown in stature to this day – only slightly dinged by the pandemic.  I have noticed a craving for live music and am happy to report that the clubs are starting to thrive again.       As someone who has been actively seeking out live jazz nightly in Manhattan for over 25 years, (with my explorations having started sporadically in 1983 when I graduated from college and moved back to NY), I can say with authority that there is something here for every type of jazz fan.  You just have to know what type…

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May 11, 2022

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

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…

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November 5, 2021

COVID Current List of Open Manhattan Jazz Clubs – OCT. 2021

The light at the end of the tunnel report – We are finding it difficult to pull together jazz tours that can get to three clubs a night within 4-5-hours as we did prior to March 2020.  In March 2021 we were able to start touring again – taking guests to live jazz performances in…

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October 7, 2021

Still Life: NYC Jazz Clubs – COVID – Survival Score Card

     As we head into the 9th month of pandemic deprivation, we are not confident that jazz life will ever resemble pre-COVID status.   All music venues struggle against all odds to remain in business during this extended lockdown.        Performers and performance venues were likely hit the hardest as precautionary health…

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December 29, 2020

The Church of Saint John Coltrane – A Blast from the Past

The Jazz Church by Gordon Polatnick Originally published in the Haight Ashbury Free Press circa 1995  Sometimes I think I’m the only one who understands what true religion is.   It’s that cozy state of mind where nothing is more apparent than the unassailable fact that each of us belongs here on Earth, and is deeply…

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December 23, 2020

Bill Saxton – Harlem’s Saxa Claus – Streaming Holiday Cheer

I met Bill Saxton at St. Nick’s Pub one Friday night in 1997 during one of his weekly gigs.  Over the years we have remained friendly, our lives intersecting significantly in the early 2000’s when we each opened a Harlem jazz spot within a few blocks of the other.   Bill’s Place, 148 West 133rd…

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December 23, 2020

Harlem Beat of the Streets

As the winter of 2020 sets in, Big Apple Jazz is offering private tours during the day with a “Harlem Beat of the Streets” theme.  After owning a Harlem jazz cafe, and decades of experience as a tour guide locally and internationally I am doing what feels best in the moment: a relaxed, comfortable walking…

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November 16, 2020

WSJ – The Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem

     If you’re a hopeless romantic pining for a sepia toned, 100 year ago version of New York City you will marvel at how well-preserved Harlem still appears to be.  If coming from the laughably tall and thin sky-scraper race to the clouds on 57th Street, it’s strangely comforting to note that the buildings…

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November 12, 2020

Live Jazz In Harlem Clubs during COVID-19 in Autumn 2020

Everyone is asking the same question and dealing with the same conundrum: Is indoor jazz clubbing out of the question during COVID in NYC, and if not, how does it work?  New York got hit so hard at the start of Covid that the lockdown period was followed by a very prudent and organized phased…

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October 26, 2020

The Jazz Streets of NYC During Lockdown 2020 – A video document

During the months following the “stay at home” orders that kept New York City quieter than it had ever been, I ventured out briefly to see for myself what was happening on 125th Street, one of the busiest boulevards in Harlem.  My son, Eli, shot the video of poignantly empty sidewalks and shuttered retail shops…

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October 16, 2020

Loving Tribute to the Harlem Underground Jazz Scene

We wanted to share this video of photos and clips from our time on the Harlem jazz scene.  It covers the underground clubs and magnificent players we’ve been enjoying during our over 20 years in business. Some close friends: Gary Samuels, Alex Layne, Linda Carr, Samuel Hargress Jr.,  were lost at the start of the…

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October 9, 2020

Meet Gordon Polatnick, Article by Jacqueline Bischof – 2008

Living the Jazz Life” by Jacqueline Bischof Autumn 2008 It’s 11.30 on a Friday night in early Fall, and Dennis Davis is standing outside St. Nick’s pub in Sugar Hill, one of Harlem’s oldest and most famous jazz establishments.  Tall and wiry, Davis is wearing a weathered, ankle – length leather coat. Standing under the…

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February 11, 2020