The Jazz Hot Spot of the World

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New York is the world’s hot spot for jazz. It’s a city full of culture and diversity. You can find many different clubs that offers a variety of jazz for every taste. Nowadays Brooklyn is offering a lot of jazz because Williamsburg is becoming a hip area for young musicians to live in. Some of the big musicians on today’s New York scene are Aaron Parks, Aaron Diehl, Rodney Green, Benny Green and Cyrille Aimee, to mention a few. You see a lot of young players playing at a high level and hosting jam sessions at Smalls, Rue-B and bars around Brooklyn.

What does a music student in New York typically do in a day? Drummer Kyle Poole, a student at The New School of Music in New York, will get up in the morning and practice for a little, then take the subway to school for his classes. He was part of an ensemble put together by students led by the legendary drummer Charli Persip. When class ends he goes to Smalls, where he has a gig playing with a trio behind tap dancers. When the Smalls gig ends, he’ll stick around to watch the next group and then go to Smoke’s, where he has another gig with a singer. Afterwards, he’ll hang around, eat, listen to music, and play the card game Uno with his band members.

I also asked a few musicians about life in New York. Pianist Matt Savage (Berklee and Manhattan School of Music alumni) says this about his time in New York: Well, when I was at Manhattan School of Music, I would sometimes teach at the McCarton School (a school for kids with autism; I worked there alongside graduate school) in the morning. Then I would head back uptown to attend a class at MSM. And then I would have to get dressed again for a gig that evening. The hard part is living uptown…you have to take the subway for 45-60 minutes to get downtown for work. And sometimes you have to do it twice if you have both work and a gig…or if you have any errands!”

Drummer Bryan Carter, who went to Juilliard and who now is touring with singer Kurt Elling, says this about his time in school:Juilliard was definitely a hectic place. It felt like almost every second of my day was accounted for. Theory, Ear Training, Rehearsals, Ensembles…just finding time to practice or gig outside of school was difficult. In the real world, you have a more open schedule, but the time is accounted for as well. For instance, I just flew six hours across the country for a gig and I could sleep. But I know that the time is better served replying to emails, working on tour routing, preparing an outline for the masterclass I’m about to teach. In the real world, there’s no teacher who’s going to fail you…but the consequences can be more serious. There is a greater sense of personal accountability that has to happen.”

New York City is a place full of life and diversity. One of the pioneers in the New York jazz scene is trumpeter and bandleader Wynton Marsalis, who’s led his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JALCO) at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola for many years now. Pianist Marcus Roberts leads a similar band of fine young musicians that he named The Modern Jazz Generation. They were all once Roberts’ students and now perform with him at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in New York City. If you are into Latin music, you will find that the Pedrito Martinez group really gets the crowd going; if you are into the classic jazz piano trio, great trios abound (such as the legendary pianist Bill Charlap’s Trio, whose lineup has remained solid for years (bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington.) If you enjoy vocal jazz, you’ll find great singers, such as Charenee Wade, who also teaches at schools both Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan.

These groups are just a sampling of the great jazz the city has to offer.

Cyrille Aimee with Roy Hargrove
Ali Jackson Trio
Ari Hoenig – Billie’s Bounce
Mike Stern with Kim Thompson at the 55 Bar
Cecile McLorin Salvant – I Didn’t Know What Time it was
Aaron Diehl – Moonlight in Vermont
Charenee Wade
Mulgrew Miller – Go East Young Man
The Emmet Cohen Trio
Tim Green 5tet


          February 10, 2018