New Yorkers are a sentimental bunch. No matter how good a city restaurant/theater/neighborhood/bus route is now, people love to lament that it used to be better. Manhattan's West Village currently lays claim to some of the best restaurants in the country, but, in the 1960s, it had Bob Dylan, thank you very much. And Brooklyn's influential aesthetic now imports Edison lightbulbs and Mason jar chic to Paris, but, in the 1980s and '90s, it was home to hip hop legends like the Notorious B.I.G., ODB and Jay-Z.
This tireless self-examination naturally extends itself to the world of jazz. Granted, New York jazz history is solid: the Harlem Renaissance introduced the world to musical legends like Fats Waller and Duke Ellington, and Manhattan's bop and bebop revolution brought out-of-towners like John Coltrane and Miles Davis to the city's well-seasoned stages. As a result, contemporary fans worry that they missed the boat, and the golden age of New York City jazz is behind them.
So what's the modern bass and brass enthusiast to do? Ignore the hoopla, and hit the streets. These days, New York's jazz scene ranges from living legends playing sold-out sets from Harlem to Greenwich Village landmarks like the Village Vanguard, to grooves in cafes like The Cornelia St. Cafe, not strictly all Jazz all the time but a definite player. Know your history, but don't get lost in the past. Here are 10 spots to hear jazz and blues in New York City – today.