NYC Jazz Clubs Map Revisit


Royal Roost with Charlie Parker
The Royal Roost


My Google map of our forgotten jazz clubs here in the city (originally posted here) appears to have been rediscovered over the weekend, and I wanted to repost it here along with some of the informative comments I’ve received. I’ve added a few clubs with these comments in mind and would like to also thank Bill Crow, Steve Little, Billy Mintz, Taro Okamoto, Murray Wall and many other musicians that have helped me out with tips and anecdotes for this map. Speaking of anecdotes, I think I will start adding some to the map, stay tuned!

Tenorist Ted Brown had this to say on Facebook about the project:

“I noticed a couple things…(1) In 1976 there used to be a basement club on W. 86th Street called Strykers where Lee, Chet Baker and others worked. (2) When the Half Note closed one of the Cantarino Brothers (Sonny?) opened up a club on W. 54th Street called the Half Note but instead of jazz he catered to a lunch time crowd with strippers behind the bar, etc. until the Vice Squad threatened to close him down…suddenly he went back to a jazz policy so he called Lee to go back to jazz and I worked with him a few weekends. (3) Right across the street on W. 54th between 7th and 6th Ave. was Eddie Condon’s place where Mike Canterino was managing the bar…that was in 1977. (4) The Open Door in  1953 was near the east side of Washington Square Park. (5) In 1959 we lived near Broadway and 9th Street and I remember the Five Spot as being pretty close to Broadway around 4th Street…could be wrong.”

From Bill Crow:

“Did you know “Le Downbeat” on W 54th near 8th Ave? Barbara Carroll’s trio was the house group, and the other band would be someone like Stan Getz or Oscar Pettiford.”

And from the comments on the original post courtesy of John Biderman:

“As a native New Yorker, whose parents were die-hard jazz buffs, I got to experience the renaissance of clubs in the ’70s (helped along, I think, by George Wein moving his festival to the city). So, a few notes: Also in the Village was Nick’s at I think 10th St. and Greenwich Ave. but you’d need to confirm. Later on it became Your Father’s Mustache (wha???) which had a group of Dixie banjo players most nights but it was the venue where Red Balaban had his Sunday gig of “Balaban and Cats,” until he opened his own place, the *new* Eddie Condon’s on W 54 near 7th. Which brings to mind that that block hosted the new Condon’s, the new Jimmy Ryan’s (relocated from 52nd St. and the longest living of the clubs), and briefly the new Half Note relocated from the West Village. A couple of additions on the east side of University Place: The Knickerbocker at the corner of 9th (still there, of course), and The Cookery on the corner of 8th, founded by Barney Josephson of Cafe Society fame and host to a slew of excellent pianists and, eventually, vocalists, notably Helen Humes and Alberta Hunter.

“Thought of a couple more: Michael’s Pub at, if I recall correctly, 55th and 3rd, one of Gil Weist’s places. He also ran the Carnegie Tavern, which was at the 56th and 7th corner of the Carnegie Hall building, a showcase for Ellis Larkins and others (and perhaps the only room in town to boast an August Förster piano, brilliant-sounding). Oh, and Zinno’s, on 13th just west of 6th – had a small music room in the ’90s to early ’00s where some great players worked, e.g. Gene Bertoncini and Michael Moore, and the wonderful trio of John Bunch, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Jay Leonhart.

“Kelly’s Stable was another one on the old 52nd St. I have a 1947 issue of The New Yorker somewhere that I will try to dig up to see what others of that era were listed. There was a spacious room in the basement level of the Empire State Building for a time in the ’70s – I remember hearing Sy Oliver’s big band there – but I can’t remember the name; you entered on the southwest corner of 5th and 34th and walked downstairs.”


I am still looking into a few of these suggestions, and some have already been added to the map. Keep ’em coming! It’s fascinating hearing about these places. Also useful have been the old scanned copies of New York Magazine available online.

Here’s the map again:



  1. There was a club on 6th Ave between 9th and 10th St where I first met Barry Harris while Benny Carter’s group was playing in the late 1980’s. Barry was sipping “Virgin Mary” at the bar. I cannot recall the name of the club. I’d appreciate if you could find out the name.

  2. I heard an Eddie Condon side on Pandora last night and it brought back so many memories. I’m 81 and Condon’s used to be my “Best-Date” place to go on 56th Street. First dinner at Romeo Salta’s then on for jazz. I became a regular because I loved the Condon style of jazz. Condon would recognize me and say “hello.” It impressed my dates. Besides that it was not overly expensive.
    He was a pure gentleman. When I was on active duty, I was an officer in the Army, he would pick up the check if I came in uniform. Once I brought a woman Marine officer. We were both in uniform after a meeting. He stopped the music and said, “Here they are, America’s first line of defense!”
    I miss the great NY jazz clubs. A bygone era.

  3. There was a jazz club inside Hopper’s Restaurant in Manhattan in 6th Avenue near about 12th Street in the late 70’s. Do you recall the name by any chance?

  4. I hope this site is still active. I’m trying to recall the name of a club maybe called Hoppers or Harpers. Around 12th or 13th and Seventh – across the street from The Women’s Detention Center, demolished years ago. Last time I was near the site, an up-scale deli/butcher shop was there. Any club come to mind?

  5. OK, let’s see if this will jog any memories:
    The WDC was on 6th Ave. Avenue of the Americas today.
    Across the street or maybe a block down was a playground and deeper in the block was an Italian restaurant. It had a patio and in the rear was a small stage that had a house band, Four men. They played jazz and standards. No dancing, but a marvelous, romantic place with candles on the tables.
    Do I remember the name? Of course not!! Hell, I’m 83 and stopped dating in Greenwich Village 30 years ago. Neither do I remember my Greenwich Village dates. Is that a sign of maturity, sophistication or age?

  6. This is great. I will share this in jazz history classes and use it for research and fun.

    I had a few thoughts from the 1970s-90s, although I don’t know what your parameters are for years and “historic.”

    Axis in Soho – on West Broadway (there are some live records: Paul Bley, Sun Ra, etc.)
    J’s – upper west side, I played there, can’t find address (upstairs; owned by a singer; lots of vocalists; Gene Bertoncini was a regular; etc.)
    Tin Palace – 2nd St. and Bowery, but I’m not sure of the address. (Saw some great music there!)
    the first and second Knitting Factory locations (see recent Jazz Times article)
    Cornelia Street Café — recently closed to jazz.

    I could name many more, but those are some that stood out to me as important.

  7. Thanks for responding. If I saw Harper’s or Hoppers – do they ring any bells? Large room, restaurant really, high ceilings, noisy as a result. So they built a small room behind the bar and closed it off. A window looking into the space, and you could see and hear the music being played. In a way a solution to an often nasty problem of people babbling and not really listening.

  8. It was Hopper’s. I worked there in the mid seventies. I’m trying to remember the name of that little club inside.
    They would rotate the schedule so we all had a chance to work in the club. I waited on Dizzy Gillespie a few times. He was a great tipper.
    He was rumored to be one of the investors.

  9. When you read these comments do you realize that we’re still here!! My god, we’re talking about 50 or 60 years ago. We’ve still got our memories and let me tell you they’re better then if these places were still with us. A year or so ago I wandered by the Bitter End. Big mistake. I used to go there when Freddie Weintraub owned it. I had a regular table and took out the folk singers. Times were just great!!
    Here’s some free advice: Never!!! That’s NEVER, go back!! My wife, from London, lived through the blitz. We went back a few years ago and she and her sister took a cab to their old home. They were inconsolable for weeks. What had been a magnificent single family home had become an immigrant rooming house.
    That marvelous jazz club of the 50s is now a delicatessen, or worse, a laundry. Keep your memories.

  10. It was Hopper’s. A Cafe up front, a 48 foot bar with a window onto the jazz room and a table cloth steak house restaurant in the back. Joe Williams played often as did Jerry Mulligan, Phil Woods, DeeDee Bridgewater and countless others. Joe Newman was a great trumpeter and for awhile Jimmy Rowles played piano in the cafe late afternoons.
    Late Saturday night it was the after hours stop for SNL for its first few seasons.
    The food was good but we got hammered by Mimi Sheraton.
    Louise the owner’s wife chose the name as her favorite artist was Edward Hopper.

  11. On our 1959 senior trip to NYC we came across a well known jazz restaurant where people were standing on the sidewalk looking into the place through the door and listening to music. It had a long bar running along the left hand side with a drum set on top of the bar at the far end. Some of us were underage (me by about 3 or 4 months) so I borrowed a classmate’s draft card and six of us entered and got seated in a booth. We ordered pizza and beer and the beer was brought to the table while the pizza was being prepared. However, just as the beer was delivered a fellow showed up at the table and asked for our draft cards to check our ages. All of us presented our cards which he checked and it looked like he was going to give us the OK but then he looked at me and asked if the card he was looking at was mine to which I nodded yes. He looked back and forth at the photo on the card and me several times and then asked me to spell my last name. I tried to spell my classmate’s last name, Gelsleichter, failed miserably, and got led to the door. Once outside I looked back at my group still sitting at the table, drinking my beer and grinning at me. I know I haven’t given you much to go on, but would you have an idea of the name of that place?

  12. This is a great discussion. As young men from the Ct. suburbs my friends and I regularly attended Jazz clubs all over Manhattan.

    Like a previous poster I too had a mental block vis-a-vis the name “Hoppers” or “Harpers”. I was introduced to this club when a singer I was not familiar with appeared there, named David Allyn.

    The Village Voice was our bible for listing the clubs and musicians we loved and I learned about Allyn from an ad in that paper.

    At some point during this era a midtown club opened with a name like “Storyville” or “Storytown”. It was larger than most and lacked the intimacy of rival clubs. It’s “catch” if you will is that it featured musicians who were not associated with each other playing together. For example I saw Joe Newman there with Charles McPherson even though they were not performing together at the time. I also think that George Wein had something to do with this club.
    And I don’t think the club had a long shelf life.

    I also saw Chet Baker in a tiny nameless club in the Village. At the time he was making another comeback from health/legal problems he’d been dealing with. He appeared wearing a plain white tee. And the place was so tiny the audience was right on top of the band. Very intimate. And not a “named” club like the Vanguard or the Village Gate.

    The club we visited most frequently was probably the midtown version of the Half Note. Saw Gillespie, Getz, Mulligan, Silver and others multiple times there. The attraction for “kids” like us was the fee, namely a $5 cover and one drink minimum. We would sit through two sets for around $8 plus tip. The first set was usually sparsely attended, while the second set was packed. The third set was too late for us. And I’m guessing that the management was only too happy to see us leave since we spent so little. Oh, and when the headline act was on break there was usually a musician who played during the “break”. Atillo Zoller (sp?) often filled this role on solo guitar and I would never have heard of Mr. Zoller had it not been for his many appearances at the Half Note as an intermission act.

    Wish my memory was better.

  13. OK, so it’s not a real Jazz Club, but does anybody remember the Monkey Bar in the Hotel Elysee on Manhattan’s East side? I’m talking about the historic Monkey Bar, circa 1950, and earlier.
    Yes, they had jazz nights, but their real entertainers were left over burlesque performers who could keep you laughing without the use of one dirty word, just hints. There was one woman, stout, with a dozen necklaces and a bosom ala Margaret Dumont who would come on with the opening line “OK, who’s going to get laid tonight?” She’d pick on one poor couple who looked like that idea was completely anathema to them and the jokes would flow. Notwithstanding her one use of the word “laid” she never did more then intimate. This was back in the days where comedians didn’t need to spout off in off color language.
    Well, that’s a memory that popped up over the weekend. I think I watched a hearing in DC on the tube and started thinking of the Monkey Bar. Go figure.

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