116 East 27th St
New York, 10016
Hours: 6p-3a Daily
Subway: 6 to 28th St
Written by: Emily Niewendorp
Visiting Jazz Standard is a reward at the end of a long day. The venue’s remarkable highlights include owner Danny Meyer’s winning hospitality, amazing jazz music, and real pit BBQ from the upstairs restaurant, Blue Smoke.
The stairwell winds down to the club past black and white photos of great jazz musicians from the last century. As the designs and wall coloring turn red—the standard color at Jazz Standard—the air begins to carry an element of anticipation.
When walking into the Jazz Standard, low voices and the soft tinkling of utensils on tableware are audible. There is a subdued, yet expectant excitement waiting for the music to begin. The staff does its best to accommodate the many seating choices: the bar area; a front section positioned perpendicular to the stage for close views; and tiered platforms.
The black and red stage is simple and intimate, and the roster of talented musicians that play the room means that the shows are nearly always a joy; soft and sweet, and dissident and aggressive. A show at Jazz Standard will carry away any daily strife and charm in the meantime.
Some highlights have included: Bill Charlap with Jim Hall and Frank West; and a Fred Hersch duo series with Kenny Barron, Jason Moran and Ethan Iverson as guests.
The club hosts birthday celebrations and benefits: Preservation Hall Band from New Orleans did a weeklong benefit that hosted numerous Louisiana musicians. Regular events include the Maria Schneider Orchestra’s annual Thanksgiving week residency, and the Mingus Mondays weekly residency. The latter residency showcases Charles Mingus’ music in three rotating ensembles—Mingus Big Band (winner of Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album), Mingus Orchestra, and Mingus Dynasty.
The club has formed its identity by providing opportunities to emerging artists. Luciana Souza is one of many musicians who had her initial, multiple night, jazz-club engagement at Jazz Standard. The club encourages musicians to experiment and present new projects, resulting in shows that are exciting for both the public and the musicians.
Jazz Standard also nurtures the next generation of musicians through the Jazz for Kids program. Conductor David O’Rourke auditions student- musicians from surrounding high schools and junior highs and forms a group. From October to June the kids play a Sunday brunch performance. A $5 donation to see the show has created scholarship opportunities for young musicians to attend college.
There are no table minimums at Jazz Standard, and discounted student tickets are also available. Live recordings of many shows, such as the Grammy nominated duo of Fred Hersch and vocalist Nancy King, are available both at the venue and online.
Known as The Jazz Standard in late ’90s, Danny Meyer took over operations in 2001, changed the name to Jazz Standard and closed the space for renovations. It turned out to be fortunate timing, as shortly afterward 9/11 occurred. The venue escaped the loss of business that most NYC companies experienced after the attacks.
A long time enthusiast of jazz since his days as a jazz DJ in college, Danny was also excited about bringing one of the first real pit BBQs to NYC. Long-recognized as a creator of hospitality-driven establishments with excellent cuisine, Danny opened Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard in March 2002. Though live jazz and BBQ may seem like an unlikely pair, both are undoubtedly Danny’s passions.
The most proficient musicians and dynamic shows were naturally scheduled for the venue’s launch, and since then that high standard has continued.