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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

Resurrection of our old NYC Jazz Club Bible

Some of our long-time visitors, (we’ve been around since the turn of the century), have been missing our big list of NYC jazz clubs, and the content we used to include about each club. As it turns out this information was lingering somewhere in the dark web ready to be resurrected – so here it is.  Some of the information needs to be updated, so take it with a grain of salt, and do some further research regarding music policy, cover charges, set times, etc.   Please help us update this list with new intel: [email protected] I’ll spend some time each day making this a more useful place to look for current information, so feel free to bookmark this page for those times you are seeking an up-to-date jazz guide. There is also some great historical data.  Where you see…

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December 2, 2019

The Harlem Jazz Scene – a retrospective on the day after St. Nick’s Pub fire

Sugar Hill Jazz Quartet at St Nick’s Pub at the turn of the century. photo credit Gordon Polatnick We woke up to the devastating news of a deadly fire last night in Harlem on the set of a Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe, Leslie Mann movie called Motherless Brooklyn.  With that kind…

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March 23, 2018

The Billie Holiday Zone – Harlem Singers’ Series

Fridays will never be the same.  There’s no place like Harlem and there’s no other vocalist series like this one in the clandestine Gin Fizz – a speakeasy hidden in plain sight. Tickets in cooperation with AirBnB Concerts.  Singers Showcase   March 16, 2018 at Gin Fizz Boncellia Lewis with Shareef Clayton, trumpet Hilliard Greene,…

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March 7, 2018

Cheap NYC Jazz Clubs

New York City: Affordable Live Jazz Clubs In Manhattan (Where you can hear the greats from Greenwich Village to Harlem) By Gordon Polatnick I started Big Apple Jazz Tours with the understanding that jazz is at its best when musicians and audiences are sharing an intimate, interactive experience that feels like it could go on forever, and that something unexpected is bound to happen.  There are wonderful, famous Manhattan clubs like the Village Vanguard, Birdland, Blue Note, Dizzy’s, Iridium, Jazz Standard, and Smoke, which regularly present legendary performers in intimate settings but must clear the house between sets – stifling the spontaneity to some extent.  These are great venues but they don’t tell the whole story.  Jazz fans in New York have become used to plenty of options that you may not be aware of yet. New York has been home to the majority of legendary jazz…

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June 22, 2017