When most of Chicago’s top jazz musicians moved to New York in the mid ’20s, it was clear that the Big Apple was about to become the ‘Mecca of Jazz’. Two decades later the Birdland jazz club was established (in 1949) with the goal of becoming one of the best jazz venues for both jazz musicians and fans. Named ‘Birdland’ after Charlie ‘Yardbird’ Parker, who was the regular headliner, the club was initially located in Broadway, the hot bed of jazz in the ’30s and 40s. Its unique design – a long bar, tables, booths, a 500 people capacity and a non-alcoholic area where teenagers were allowed to stay and watch live performances – quickly made the club very popular.
In the ’50s the place started to host numerous jazz musicians – Art Blakey, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and many more – started to make recordings there as well. Also, it was not unusual to see celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Gary Cooper and Marilyn Monroe enjoying the performances.
With the rise of new popular music like Rock ‘n’ Roll and financial issues in 1965, Birdland closed and reopened, stronger than ever, in 1986, moving to Broadway. After 10 years of great success, Birdland moved again, going back to midtown: “after ten successful years uptown, I felt the mystique of Birdland returning to midtown – it would be the natural continuation of the legendary jazz corner of the world,” said Birdland owner John Valenti. Now, a half century later, the Birdland jazz club still attracts key figures of the international jazz music scene and fans from all over the world.
If you happen to be in New York City stop by the ‘jazz corner of the world’. A live music venue full of history, with a unique atmosphere, a good variety of menus and an impressive concert schedule featuring some of the best jazzists around.