Must-See Washington Square
by Jonathan Zeller, Christina Parrella and Jonathan Durbin, 10/02/2013
Village Vanguard. Photo: Willie Davis
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All That Jazz
With Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis among the jazz elite who have played here, the Village Vanguard, which opened in 1935, is regarded by music fans around the world as the quintessential City jazz club. While the venue originally catered to folk acts and poetry readings, it became the hub of the jazz music scene in the late 1950s thanks to superb acoustics—credited to the basement room's distinctive triangular shape. These days the legendary spot hosts big-name performers and lesser knowns, for whom playing here is an unofficial rite of passage.
Another renowned jazz club, the Blue Note, has hosted numerous musical giants since 1981. Not only does it showcase local jazz, soul and funk artists during the Late Night Groove series on Friday and Saturdays, but it's also had more than a few superstars—like Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan—roll through.
Amid the jazz haunts sits (Le) Poisson Rouge, housed in the same building as another storied (but now defunct) jazz music venue, The Village Gate. It offers an assortment of music, art and comedy shows and something called the Freedom Party, which puts '80s, disco and old-school hip-hop on heavy rotation. There's art for sale in the adjoining Gallery at LPR, and food and drinks are served both there and in the main space, branding (Le) Poisson Rouge as a cultural emporium.