Jazz in Brooklyn

December 26, 2009 Culture, Travel & Heritage, Features

by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

Brooklyn’s jazz scene shares a long history in the overall movement of jazz in New York City. It wasn’t only Harlem and Midtown’s 52 Street that championed jazz for the Big Apple — add Bedford-Stuyvesant to that list. Not only did Brooklyn produce jazz luminaries such as Max Roach and Lean Horne, but Bed-Stuy was and still is home to some pretty swank jazz clubs. The strip along Fulton Street between Washington and Nostrand Avenues was once packed with 20 jazz clubs. You may be surprised to know that Brooklyn was the old stomping grounds for musicians like Hugh Masekela, Freddie Hubbard and Herbie Hancock; Art Blakey and Thelonius Monk were also frequent performers at Brooklyn clubs like The East and The Blue Coronet.

“Pumpkins (which just recently stopped its music policy) kept the Brooklyn jazz scene alive for over a quarter century,” notes Bob Myers, Communication Director of Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium, club owner and cultural activist. “Watch as Jazz, this original art form created by African Americans, plays a key role in Brooklyn’s revitalization.”

Since spring is here, take a jazz tour around Brooklyn. I suggest you start your improv with the following spots:

The Jazz
375 Kosciuszko Street entrance at 179 Marcus Garvey Blvd between DeKalb & Kosciuszko) (718) 453-7825

A great place to bring a young friend as an introduction to live, acoustic jazz. No alcohol and organic snacks makes for a great atmosphere for the ‘coming of age,’ not to mention the jam sessions and local bands add to the communal flavor of this

Jazz @ 966
966 Fulton Street, Brooklyn (718) 638-6910 Ext #25,
Who says the seniors don’t know how to party? They do, and until nearly the break of dawn at that. Although on Friday nights Jazz @ 966 (16 years and going strong) is a party packed with those enjoying the golden years, all ages are welcome. There’s live jazz from bands from around the metro area and a dance party to top things off. $10 cover, dinner included, doors at 7pm.

Sista’s Place
456 Nostrand Avenue entrance on Jefferson Avenue (718) 398-1766

With its musical director Ahmed Abdullah as a member of the Sun Ra Arkestra for over two decades, Sista’s Place is an institution, promoting jazz in Brooklyn at its best. In the heart of Bed-Stuy right off of Nostrand Avenue, this club serves as a cultural hub for jazz in Brooklyn today. Also, during the day Sista’s Space is truly a community space that hosts events, meetings and panel discussions lead by non-profit organizations.

Check out these spots for a great jazz brunch or dinner:

Night of the Cookers, 767 Fulton Street (718) 797-1197
Solomon’s Porch, 307 Stuyvesant Avenue (Corner of Halsey) (718) 919-8001
Secrets Restaurant & Lounge, 724 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn (718) 735-7387


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