Off-Beat: Valentine’s Day Edition
Written by Bwog Staff
Welcome to Off-Beat, Bwog’s column for jazz both on and off campus. Our jazz correspondent Justin Vlasits will be focusing primarily on events that are “off the beaten path,” trying to give a picture of the New York jazz scene without talking about the big names playing at expensive clubs like the Blue Note, Iridium and the Village Vanguard.
Since my first column has fallen so close to Valentine’s Day, here are three great little clubs for your special evening. All are on the 1 line, have no cover, but at the same time have great music and food.
Arthur’s Tavern – 57 Grove Street (1 to Christopher St.)
Arthur’s has been a continuously running club since 1937 and is one of the few places in the West Village that has maintained its integrity despite the waves of gentrification in the area (read: gay pride and Texas flags hang side-by-side above the bar). Like most of the smaller clubs in the city, you will be hearing primarily small combos – seasoned New York musicians playing standards. The space is small, but you will always find a seat next to the regulars. This is a great spot for an intimate, yet unpretentious evening.
Garage – 99 Seventh Avenue South (1 to Christopher St.)
Right across from Arthur’s Tavern, but the polar opposite in terms of ambiance, Garage is a big, trendy restaurant/bar that features live music every night. The musicians here tend to be younger, with many recent Julliard and MSM graduates, and there is a little bit more of a sense of humor about the place. You will be sharing the bar with suits and ties, and their seafood is fantastic (although not cheap). Come here if you like chrome, ultra-modern decorating as opposed to Arthur’s wood paneling. Both play great music and make for a delightful night.
Cleopatra’s Needle – 2485 Broadway/92nd Street (1 to 96th St.)
If you are looking for a place that’s a little bit closer to home, you might want to try this Upper West Side restaurant. They try to do it all: with a pretty solid variety of Mediterranean food (although the baba ghanoush is a little suspect), a tiny sports bar in the corner (with requisite big-screen TV), and a hot jazz band filling up the space. Don’t be fooled by the candles; this Cleopatra’s Needle puts on none of the guises of a fancy restaurant – they just don’t have any overhead lighting. Come here for a more family restaurant feel and you will be impressed with the post-bop and modern jazz that fills your evening.