There's no doubt that New York City is where jazz music found its stride: Miles Davis rose to fame in bebop clubs in the '40s; Billie Holiday made hearts melt in Harlem; and Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker wailed on the trumpet and saxophone, respectively. Many of NYC's iconic jazz clubs remain as vibrant as ever, and they've been joined by dozens of newer clubs that carry on the tradition of this uniquely American art form. Just as music aficionados once made pilgrimages to New York to see Parker at Birdland or John Coltrane at the Village Vanguard, today's jazz fan has tons of options to catch tomorrow's legends—whose genres range from Latin jazz to soul to fusion and countless more subgenres—cutting their teeth onstage every night of the week.
To help you find your way, check out this guide to some of the City's must-visit jazz venues—from higher-priced fancy spots to casual, more affordable places. Showtimes and cover charges can vary from night to night, so call ahead. You dig?
178 Seventh Ave. South, 212-255-4037, West Village, Manhattan
Whether you're talking history, acoustics or big-name performers, the Vanguard has it all. Opened in 1935, the club has maintained its 123-seat-capacity basement—famous for its great sound, often credited to the room's triangular shape. John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Wynton Marsalis all recorded legendary live albums at this music mecca, a must-visit for every jazz fan. Tickets $25 per set ($20 for students with valid ID Sunday through Thursday for second set); one-drink minimum; showtimes 9pm and 11pm daily.
131 W. 3rd St., 212-475-8592, Greenwich Village, Manhattan
While it doesn't boast the Vanguard's longevity, Blue Note (established in 1981) certainly stands up to the legendary space in terms of quality. Some of the top performers on the planet tread a path through this classy institution—Grammy Award–winning jazz pianist and composer Chick Corea as well as Grammy Award–nominated trumpeter and composer Chris Botti, for example, have both played here. Be sure to arrive sooner, not later, as seating here is first come, first served. Tickets $20–$65 per set, $10 for Late Night Groove Series; showtimes 8pm and 10:30pm daily, plus 12:30am on Friday and Saturday nights, 12:30pm and 2:30pm jazz brunch on Sunday.