Visiting New York and not spending an evening at Village Vanguard is like going to Paris and not eating a croissant. The Vanguard is a New York institution and has been the venue of the most spectacular jazz performances for more than 80 years.
Stepping under the red awning, down the creaky stars and into the green felt-clad cellar in Greenwich Village, you’ll feel as though you’ve taken a trip back in time. This cramped room once hosted Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra has played here every Monday night since 1966. No phones are allowed, bourbon is encouraged (even enforced: there’s a minimum cover charge per table) and the lights are down low. If you need to escape this intense city for an hour or four, Village Vanguard is for you.
Loren Schoenberg – artistic director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem – described it as “the only quote unquote holy place left in jazz”. Making a pilgrimage to Village Vanguard is an essential for every New Yorker.
Village Vanguard, 178 7th Avenue South, New York, NY 10014.
Photo: Village Vanguard.