Wednesday 8 February 2012

Autumn in New York

I'm organising a walking tour of the NYC jazz scene to take place in the first week of October.

The tour is aimed at people who have not visited NYC before or who have not explored its jazz scene. By the end of the tour participants should have good knowledge of the geography and attractions of the city & a thorough knowledge of the jazz scene past & (most importantly) present. And will have heard some great music.

The 5-day tour will include:

  • Entry to Louis Armstrong’s house- now a museum- in Astoria, Queens
  • A visit to Charlie Parker’s house
  • Entry to the Jazz Museum in Harlem, with a ‘Harlem Speaks’ session if available
  • A 'ghost walk' covering the sites of (vanished) jazz clubs past - (Café Society, Minton’s, Monroe’s, Apollo Theatre- still there but no longer presenting much jazz- Five Spot, 52nd Street clubs, Slug’s) and other sites of jazz interest
  • and present- (not only famous clubs like the Vanguard, Blue Note, Birdland, Jazz Standard) but also Small’s, 55 Bar, Jazz Gallery, Cornelia St Café, Tea Lounge, Bar Next Door, I-Beam, The Stone.)
  • (At least) one recommended gig per night.
  • Visits to the best places to buy jazz records and cds in Manhattan, Brooklyn & Princeton
  • A meeting with a NYC-based musician for a discussion of the reality of the New York scene in the c21
  • A back-stage visit to a prominent jazz club.
  • A visit to the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, Newark, NJ
  • A visit to WBGO, Newark’s 24 hour jazz radio station.

I've had an encouraging response to the idea and plan to repeat the trip in future years; I've also received information on the avant garde scene and encouragement from Kevin Reilly who works at the Stone and runs the Relative Pitch record label.

Even more information (including the correct address of Monroe's Uptown House, one of the birthplaces of bebop) came from Bill Birch, author of Keeper of the Flame, a history of the modern jazz scene in Manchester. Ken Vail in his book Miles' Diary places it incorrectly, but Bill tracked it down!

My thanks to them both; anyone with queries or suggestions can contact me at

Bill's book is reviewed here: and Relative Pitch here: