Weekend in Stockholm: An Autumn Guide to a Stylish Stay in the Swedish Capital

Share Button

 

 

As surely the most comely Scandinavian capital, there are always so many reasons to love Stockholm. Picture perfect, and with beautiful inhabitants to match, it boasts 13th century medieval castles and jaw-dropping architecture, spread over an expansive archipelago of islands. Its cutting edge design, vibrant culinary scene and legendary nightlife continue to make it an imperative destination for the style set.

Here are some of the highlights from our most recent visit.

 

ABBA: The Museum

For campy fun, visit the museum that houses the world’s largest collection of everything about Sweden’s most famous musical export. Marvel at the music, films, memorabilia and, especially, those ’70s fashions. It’s a fully interactive experience.

Vasamuseet

Though the 17th century war ship at the center of this maritime museum sank less than 30 minutes into its maiden voyage in 1628, it was dredged up in its entirety 333 years later and restored to its glorious splendor. Predominantly intact after laying underwater for over three centuries, this is a fascinating time capsule of Sweden’s nautical history.

 

 

Djurgarden

The lovely Djurgarden was formerly the royal hunting grounds, and now a national park – where you will feel worlds away from the pace of the city center, which is just across a short bridge. Visit the Rosendals Trädgård, a fascinating biodynamic farm and greenmarket which grows its own flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs. Relax over a fika – the Swedish version of a coffee break – at their café, which serves casual farm to fork fare. For something a little fancier, book ahead for the opulent 19th century Villa Godthem, which was the former private residence of opera singer Carl Johad Uddman – and now serves classic Swedish cuisine in a plush setting.

Fotografiska

One of Scandinavia’s top photography museums, its current Autumn Salon exhibition focuses on nature and climate change. Its award-winning namesake restaurant is run by notable chef Paul Svensson, whose specialty is vegetarian seasonal dishes built on sustainability – and here, they come with panoramic views.

 

 

Langa Raden at Hotel Skeppsholmen

Greater Stockholm consists of 24,000 islands in a vast archipelago; the idyllic Skeppsholmen is one of the most picturesque, in the heart of downtown, and offering beautiful views. Taking advantage of the scenery is the gorgeous restaurant Langa Raden, located in the Hotel Skeppsholmen. Enjoy trad Swedish fare with a contemporary twist in a lush garden setting, right on the water’s edge. It dates back to the 17th century.

Tak

Offering panoramic rooftop views over Stockholm, this newly opened bi-level hotspot is helmed by Sweden’s rising newcomer Chef Frida Ronge. Trained in the fine art of the cuisine of Japan, she has gained numerous accolades for her Nordic-Japanese creations, which use seasonal local ingredients. When it’s not too cold, the alfresco rooftop terrace turns into an all-night party.

 

Tweed Bar

(To properly navigate Stockholm’s electric nightlife scene, we enlisted the help of Ricardo Dynan, the Global Brand Ambassador for Absolut Vodka.)
Located in the oldest part of the city, Gamla Stan, Tweed resembles a vintage British gentleman’s club, with Chesterfield armchairs set amongst antique nautical décor and plaid-lined walls. Its known for its extensive cocktail list, curated by Hampus Thunholm, who also created the beverage program for Fäviken (recently featured in Netflix’s Chef’s Table series).

 

 

Linje Tio

Recently named the 25th best bar in the world by Drinks International’s “World’s 50 Best Bars.” Has all the proper bells and whistles of a Brooklynesque hotspot, and is appropriately located in the hipster hood of Hornstull/Sodermalm. The creative cocktail menu changes seasonally; expect Negronis made with strawberries and saffron, and a beet-infused Absolut Vodka mixed with coconut, ginger, lemon and nutmeg. The front houses a barber shop which functions as an overflow lounge during peak hours.

Haktet Vänster

Roughly translating to “jail cell on the left,” this stylish “speakeasy” is fitted into two neighboring townhouses off Sodermalm’s busy Hornsgaten. Sip custom craft cocktails in a cozy space decorated in vintage kitsch, mixed with 18th century antiques spread around tufted banquettes. Though the menu features a bevy of original concoctions, the knowledgeable bartenders are always up for mixing something based on your taste preferences. It’s accessible only by an intercom.

 

 

Getting There: SAS Air

The easiest way to arrive into Stockholm is via SAS Airways, who offer the most non-stop direct U.S.-to-Scandinavia flights. They recently redesigned their long haul Airbus 330-300 aircraft with ultra-modern, hi-tech cabins, including SAS Business (fully flat beds), SAS Plus (Premium Economy) and SAS Go (Economy). SAS Plus cabins also feature spacious seats and free WiFi, large entertainment screens, in addition to lounge access, and extra luggage allowance. All travelers can enjoy onboard cell service. The seasonally changing Nordic themed culinary program was also redesigned by celebrated head chef Peter Lawrence. And through a partnership with Danish brewer Mikkeller, passengers can also select from more than a dozen craft beers, brewed with high-elevation in mind. Roundtrips from Newark start at just $549.

Stay: Downtown Camper

Stockholm’s latest hospitality hotspot – located in the downtown neighborhood of Brunkebergstorg – it’s themed around “glamping,” playing to Swedes’ love of nature and the outdoors. The lobby is reminiscent of a hip tech company’s HQ, with design nods to sustainability, and a skylit concrete lobby adorned with usable kayaks. Exuding that invariably chic Nordic minimalist aesthetic, the cozy rooms are awash in a neutral gray with wool throws and a window box couch to stretch out on after a day of exploring. Refuel in their signature restaurant, aptly named Campfire, which serves delicious and unfussy Scandi comfort fare amidst sumptuous sofas and tufted chairs.

 

Paris’ Prince de Galles Hotel Opens Exhibit of Ali Mahdavi Celeb Photographs

Share Button

 

In a city of fabulous photographers, Ali Mahdavi stands apart for his ability to capture something just a bit more exquisite, even supernatural in his famous subjects. The outré Iranian shutterbug has shot everyone from Tilda Swinton to Marilyn Manson to Charlotte Gainsbourg; actress and burlesque star Dita Von Teese is his most favored muse.

And Mlle Von Teese is one of those featured featured in his new exhibition “Glamorama: Celebrities by Ali Mahdavi,” at the equally glamorous Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Paris. Other famous faces among the 40+ images include those of Monica Bellucci, Arielle Dombasle, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Donatella Versace and Karl Lagerfeld. It will be on display through October 23.

“Glamour is all the strategies that are used to achieve an ideal of beauty,” he explains, “that is not necessarily, and far from it, an ideal of conventional beauty – but an idea of personal beauty that corresponds to our own vision of this. Which is the beautiful.”

We asked him to give his most ethereal explication of three of his most exalted subjects.

 

 

 

Dita von Teese

“Dita is my ultimate muse, but she is also a close and very loyal friend. Fifteen years ago, Mr. Pearl and Suzanne von Aichinger introduced us to each other, and I immediately fell in love with her. She embodies the ideal woman that I drew since I was five years old. What I love about her is that she is the embodiment of glamour. At the beginning, she was the beautiful American blond next door, but she decided to become a brunette goddess of glamour! She transformed herself into the most glamorous woman on the planet by using all the tools of glamour inspired by the golden age of Hollywood. She always quotes a fabulous sentence from Helena Rubinstein: “There is no ugly woman, but there are lazy women!” She deserves her beauty that she creates, she is a magical bird of paradise. We did more than 20 sets of shooting, five film, film hologram for Louboutin, a video mapping, some numbers at Crazy Horse. She inspires me because she always drives me to somewhere unexpected! We evolved together and I hope we will continue until we are 80 years old. At this age, she will still be a beautiful woman with long white hair.”

Monica Bellucci

“Monica is my ultimate friend and fantasy. People all around the world ask me questions about her, because she is a fantasy, an ideal woman for any person, an all man’s desire. She is all women, but in an ultimate vision: the Virgin Mary, Maria Magdalena…and also she reminds me of the goddess Hera / Junon. Monica has the same attitude for a big luxury campaign as she does for a more small personal shooting: always chic and elegant with everybody. That is what makes her a big star. After being a supermodel with many campaigns with great photographers [D&G by Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel…] she also became a great actress. There is always a change with her, she is hypnotized by the lens and drives you into new adventures.”

Arielle Dombasle

“While Dita is my brunette muse, Arielle is my blond muse – they are my favorites! She is the most delightful woman on the planet, not only because of her beauty, but all about what she is. Arielle is divine, she is a goddess, she is also someone that you fall in love with immediately, because she is super clever, spiritual and so surrealistic with a huge sense of humor. And more than all, she is a loyal person with whom I have a long relationship with for more than ten years. We had more than ten shootings, four music videos. It is impossible to separate our friendship and our artistic relation. She inspires me because of her surrealism and her strong character.”

 

 

 

 

Italophile Alert: Identità Golose To Bring Epicurean Italy to NYC, Chicago + Boston

Share Button

 

Surely the name could easily pass for a lost Harry Potter character. But Identità Golose is actually a rather prestigious Italian culinary organization, founded in 2004 by journalist Paolo Marchi. They launched an eponymous event in Milan in 2005, and then brought it successfully to New York in 2010.

If you can do the math, you’d know it means that 2017 marks the eighth anniversary – and it will thusly perform a “takeover” of Eataly in the Flatiron from October 10-12. IG will also be marking its fourth year in Chicago (October 7-8), and debuting in Boston (October 13), setting up shop in the respective Eataly outposts in each of those cities.

 

 

The mission, especially dear to lovers of Italia such as ourselves, is to highlight the singular epicurean bounties of each region of Italy. (Seriously, we can barely contain our excitement.)

What to expect?

Six-course “Dine Around” dinners, prepared by exalted Italian chefs the likes of Corrado Scaglione, Massimo Bottura and Caterina Ceraudo; exclusive seminars given by culinary luminaries Ana Roš, Caterina Ceraudo, Enrico Cerea, and even Eric Ripert; a Pizza Master Class; and an unparalleled opportunity to bond with fellow Italophiles over all things commestibili e italiane.

Reserve tickets ahead, spaces go fast.

 

 

The Autograph Collection Hotels Launches the ‘Indie Film Project’ with ‘Gemini’

Share Button
Lola Kirke in Gemini

Too many hotels these days are rushing to offer guests some manner of cultural engagement that feels, well…rushed. But The Autograph Collection has just launched a series that will actually send you home with genuine bragging rights.

Indeed, their new Indie Film Project (in conjunction with FilmBuff) will see select hotels in their collection host screenings of high-profile independent films…ahead of their release. And if you’re going to engage the world of indie cinema, who better to kick it off with than Maggie Gyllenhaal – who, despite starring roles in various blockbusters, cut her teeth on small-budget, iconoclastic cult classics like Secretary and Donnie Darko.

She was an honorable guest at a screening at the Envoy Hotel in Boston last week of Gemini, the neo-noir crime thriller directed by Aaron Katz, and starring Zoë Kravitz as a hot young starlet, and Lola Kirke (from Mozart in the Jungle) as her personal assistant.

 

BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 19: Louise Roe, from left, Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, Franklin Leonard and Amanda Altree at Autograph Collection Hotels’ exclusive screening of “Gemini” on September 19, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images for Autograph Collection Hotels) *** Local Caption *** Louise Roe; Maggie Gyllenhaal; Franklin Leonard; Amanda Altree

“There is an inherent synergy between independent film and our hotels,” says Amanda Altree, Senior Director, Autograph Collection Hotels. “Indie filmmakers and screenwriters tell stories that inspire, provoke and connect us; while immersive storytelling is part of our DNA, enabling travelers to connect with each other and their destination in a memorable way.  Through the Indie Film Project, we have become unexpected patrons of the arts and are thrilled to support this dynamic and important industry.”

The series will continue at Autograph Collection hotels including the Adolphus in Dallas and The Camby in Phoenix.

 

 

 

The Redbury Hotel NYC Gets a Stylish New Italian Cafe

Share Button

 

Despite the fantastically successful rebirth of his very American Union Square Cafe last December, Danny Meyer’s sights have ostensibly been set squarely on building a new Roman Empire along a tight stretch of, let’s call it, “Lower East Midtown.” (LoEMid?)

His Maialino has, of course, been a sensation (behold the regular parade of celebs from Louis CK to Khloe Kardashian to Barack and Michelle) since it opened at the Gramercy Park Hotel in 2009. That was followed by Marta at the exceedingly trendy new Hollywood-export Redbury Hotel in NoMad. And this week it got a little sister in the form of Caffe Marchio, a cool, casual cafe and wine bar in an adjacent space.

With its patterned floors, marble countertops and towering columns, it looks like it could have been airlifted from Roma’s Via Del Corso. And with Exec Chef Joe Tarasco and Pastry Chef Jess Weiss helming the kitchen, it serves up tastily authentic sandwiches and pastries – accompanied by Italian beers and wines and, best of all, Old-Country-strong espressos…meant to be enjoyed standing up.

Surely, it’s a good time to be an Italophile in NYC.

 

 

The Coolest European Cities You Don’t Know, Part I

Share Button

 

We’ve been plenty busy in 2017, museum-hopping in Paris, flirting in Rome and clubbing in the Berlin Kreuzberg underground. But cultivated Europhiles that we are, we’re always feeling the call of some of our less-trodden, yet still favorite cities on the Continent.

Nothing beckons us to Europa quite like the turning of autumn, with its exhilaratingly crisp evenings, stylishly scarfed locals, and those transcendently evocative fragrances that fill the air of each city (the latter a particular treat for those forced to breath the noxious fumes of New York and LA every day).

Part I of our sojourn takes us to fashionable Antwerp (Belgium) and sophisticated Maastricht (The Netherlands). Take note, if you’ve yet to fall for the charms of the Benelux, a couple of days in each city will cure you of that straight away.

 

Antwerp

Clockwise from top left, The Jane Restaurant; Antwerp architecture; Hotel Julien; MoMu

 

If fashion has held a central place in your life and you haven’t yet been to Antwerp, you should readily acknowledge a slight tinge of embarrassment. From the Antwerp Six on to today’s new guard of Belgian design, the exalted Royal Academy of Fine Arts continues to turn out some of the most astonishing talent, whose creations can be found in the vanguard boutiques in and around Nationalestraat – where you’ll also stumble upon the hallowed flagships of the likes of Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester. Nearby, as well, is the MoMu, the city’s incomparable fashion museum, which as of December 10 will host Olivier Theyskens, She Walks in Beauty. (Between boutiques, stop in for a de rigueur lunch at Verso Cafe, within the concept shop of the same name.)

Antwerp is also a place of staggering physical beauty, with its gothic-looking Flemish Renaissance cityscape and majestic harbor. The latter is now home to industrial-chic restaurants like Het Pomphuis (in a grandiose former pump house) and the sleek, Michelin-starred ‘t Zilte, on the top floor of the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom).

And speaking of vanguard, the thought-provoking M HKA museum, and independent galleries such as Valerie Traan, Stella Lohaus and Annie Gentils are central to Antwerp’s thriving contemporary art scene. If it’s architecture that sets you atingle, plan a leisurely stroll along the Cogels Osylei, a street in the Zurenborg district where art nouveau, neo-Renaissance, neo-gothic and Tudor-revival styles (amongst others) all come together in a strange but elegant sort of harmony.

Antwerp nightlife, it must be said, is totally bonkers. Start with a glamorous dinner at The Jane, fitted into a stunning 19th Century former chapel; the 13-course prix-fixe menu is €140, but the upstairs bar has much more agreeable prices, and seats you closer to God. Continue on to the extravagant scenes at over-the-top dance clubs like Red & Blue, Publik and Cafe D’Anvers. Expect a significant degree of mind-altering.

Stay

Hotel Julien is a smart, mostly-minimalist guesthouse with an intimate subterranean spa; Hotel Banks is a stylish sleep amidst the best fashion shopping; De Witte Lelie is the joining of three 17th Century townhouses into a place of utterly ethereal beauty (and favored by notable fashion designers).

 

Maastricht

Clockwise from top left, Kruisherenhotel; River Meuse; Stijl boutique; Maastricht streets

 

Famous as the place where in 1992 the modern European Union and the euro were born (the anti-Brexit, if you will), Maastricht is actually a seductive mix of international college town and exquisitely cosmopolitan city. And seriously, nearly everyone seems to have a bloody great sense of style here. With its right and left banks straddling the majestic Meuse River, the ethereal setting might easily have you thinking it can’t possibly all be real.

Wedged almost covertly between Belgium and Germany (Cologne is just 70 km away), history and modernity play very well together in this comely Southern Dutch town. Roman cathedrals bookend narrow 17th Century streets, which are abuzz with urbane cafes, indie fashion boutiques and intimate contemporary art galleries. And to be sure, one of the vigorously recommended activities is just…walking around.

Remarkably, for a relatively small city, Maastricht packs in rather a lot of Michelin stars. Tout a Fait, Beluga loves you, Toine Hermsen, Au Coin des Bons Enfants and the glorious Chateau Neercanne, just outside the center, all boast at least one – and chefs can be wildly experimental. But there are also more bars per capita than even Amsterdam – so a jenever (gin) soaked night on the tiles requires little planning. Still, make sure to hit The Lab for perception-altering cocktails, and Complex for bleeding-edge dance music.

Culture vultures should make time for the architecture and design gallery Bureau Europa, as well as the Bonnefantenmuseum, with its fascinating mix of Italian and Flemish Renaissance and baroque works, and brilliantly curated – Richard Serra, Sol Lewitt, Neo Rauch, Gilbert & George – contemporary collection.

Stay

The Kruisherenhotel (a member of Design Hotels) might literally be the most spectacular hotel in the known universe, fitted as it is into an awe-inspiring, 15th Century former monastery and cathedral; the Beaumont, right on the buzzy Stationsstraat, has minimalist rooms and the chic Harry’s restaurant; Hotel Dis is an artistic 7-room guesthouse with its own gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

Four Cultivated Cocktails for World Sake Day

Share Button

 

With North Korean nuclear antagonism at an all-time high, a stiff but sophisticated tipple has rarely seemed so imperative. And World Sake Day – Sunday, October 1 – presents the perfect opportunity to also show solidarity with our great and equally threatened ally in the East (Japan, that is).

Sake, of course, is the stimulating Japanese rice wine which is oft consumed straight up. But to fete this exalted annual event, we tapped four of our favorite NYC spots to enlighten us with their most intriguing and irresistible sake cocktail creations.

乾杯!!!!

 

Chinese Tuxedo

At Eddy Buckingham and Jeff Lam’s Chinatown hotspot, contemporary takes on traditional Chinese dishes (honey glazed char siu, Mr. Weng’s chicken liver pate) are served up in a dramatic former opera house.

Sino Tonic (pictured above)

.75 lemon juice
.5 simple syrup
.5 cucumber juice
3 pieces Thai basil
2x dash grapefruit bitters
2 ounces sake
Top with tonic

 

TAO Uptown + Downtown

Both Tao locations in NYC have helped to redefine luxury and glamour for a 21st Century Gotham. And here innovative dim sum, sushi, seafood specialities and beyond all rise to the opulent surroundings.

Saketini

Ty Ku Cucumber Sake

Kettle One Vodka

Hint of Orange

 

Slowly Shirley

An alluring subterranean hotspot that has become the go-to for downtown cocktail aficionados. To be sure, Jim Kearns drinks program never fails to astonish; and the elegant setting charms in equal measure.

Bering Strait 

1 oz Mezcal
1/2 oz Campo de Encanto (pisco)
1/2 oz Kimchi No Shizuku
1-1/2 oz sparkling Nigori sake
1 tsp agave
1/4 oz ginger
3/4 oz pineapple
1/4 oz yuzu
Top: Soda
Stir
Add 1 oz soda
Strain into a wine glass, over Kold Draft ice
Garnish with ginger and pineapple

Image by Nick Vorderman

 

Neta

Exalted West Village sushi spot forgoes the interior frills to focus on the culinary thrills. If the omakase options are too much of a commitment, make an evening of small plates like grilled snow crab legs and sasso chicken karaage, paired with one of Joshua Rolnick’s inventive sake cocktails.

Aki Old Fashioned 

2 oz Bourbon Barrel Aged Junmai Ginjo

1oz Sour Cherry Cordial

1/2oz Housemade Grenadine

Half Sleeve of housemade apple cinnamon bitters

Smoked Cinnamon stick

Autumn Flowers

Star DJ Whitney Fierce’s Insider Guide To LA’s Hip (North) Koreatown

Share Button

 

Onomatopoeia. You know, when a word sounds like what it’s actually describing (boom!). We’re thinking this can very much apply to names, as well – especially when it comes to star DJ Whitney Fierce, who is known for fiercely shredding it behind the decks, while also dazzling any room with her inimitable presence.

A keen internationalist, she’s spun for the likes of Vogue, Dior, Topshop and Marc Jacobs, and been featured on the bill at Rock in Rio USA, Meltdown London, Nuit Sonique (Paris), Red Rocks (Russia) and the Istanbul Electronica Festival. She’ll be at Brooklyn’s House of Yes this Saturday, the 23rd, before jetting off to engagements in Australia.

 

 

When she’s not globetrotting, she calls Los Angeles home, specifically North Koreatown. Bordering the likes of Silver Lake and East Hollywood, it maintains a careful balance of local charm and charismatic cool.

“It’s brilliantly central and I love it, ” she enthuses, “because contrary to popular belief, it’s an LA neighborhood that’s actually walkable. Being here for five years, I’ve watched it change from a crunchy multicultural area to what is becoming a hipster enclave. But it’s still inclusive of the people who are originally from here. It’s this amalgamation and juxtaposition of old school and new, classic and hip, simple and fancy that makes me fall in love with it every time I get home.”

In between international stops, we asked her to take us through some of her fave spots in her beloved NK-Town.

(Twitter and Instagram, @DJWhitneyFierce; Listen on Soundcloud)

 

Sqirl

Very current, chic, and delicious breakfast/lunch spot that started as a preserves company. Their toast options carry that history, but you can find me neck deep in a Sorrel Pesto Rice Bowl w/Kokuho rose brown rice, sorrel pesto, preserved meyer lemon, watermelon radish, lacto fermented hot sauce, French sheep feta and poached egg – then to double up on the egg fare, I’ll always have a Lait ‘N’ Egg to drink, which is a Vietnamese style iced coffee shaken w/ egg whites.

Commonwealth and Council

An up-and-coming gallery/artist space that’s artist run. With multiple generations at the helm, you’ll see work here that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. from classic exhibitions to video, performance, and installation work. They show artists from around the country and the world, from many different backgrounds and cultures; it’s a great place to stop in to expand your boundaries and your mind!

 

 

EMC Raw Bar

My favorite raw bar. I am obsessed with oysters, to the point that a couple friends and I have a #GoutRace in the works. Happy hour is amazing, with dollar chef’s choice oysters and super affordable drink offerings. Don’t forget the live uni y’all. Seriously.

Poketo

Nestled in the lobby of the mega hip Line Hotel, this tiny store has so many of my favorite things, it’s absurd. I can always count on them to carry the most amazing and left field fragrances, natural bath and beauty products, and their fun bits and accessories are staggeringly well curated.

 

 

Yang San Bak

My personal favorite Korean BBQ spot, a block from the Line Hotel, Yang San Bak serves the finest self-grilled meats in the hood. Their combos come with soju and/or beer, and their banchan is incredible. And seriously, the kimchi moat is something that you didn’t know you needed in your life, but you do. Perfect for late night eats after oysters and drinks.

Baroo

It’s described on Yelp as Asian Fusion, which could be the most boring way to say what this gem of a place actually is: perhaps the best take on modern Korean I have ever put to my lips. Perfect for lunch or dinner, and definitely don’t forget their house made lavender kombucha.

 

 

HMS Bounty

A couple of blocks from EMC is a classic LA establishment, a watering hole for all people of all walks. Simple cocktails in the most amazing nautical themed atmosphere. The jukebox and the steak lunches take this spot to another level. Heck, my mom used to frequent the place when she moved to LA, and I’m always down for a legacy beverage.

The Normandie Club

Right across from YSB, nestled in a row of super cute new spots (Cassell’s – amazing hangover food, try the breakfast burger; Le Comptoir, an eight seat restaurant that reimagines French cuisine; and the semi-secret Walker Inn, with omakase-style cocktails). The Normandie Club is my neighborhood watering hole, but with a lot more to offer. They always have fun wines and their cocktail game is on point. The atmosphere is hip and the music is fun, you can meet people or bring your crew, and it’s the perfect place to end your evening and then, in my case, stumble eight blocks home.

 

Yes, Jazz is Cool: A Josh Jacobson Insider Guide to the NYC Scene

Share Button

 

In Europe, jazz has never stopped being a thing. Hit some of the trendiest spots in Paris, Prague or Amsterdam, and you’re likely to come across cool, contemporary, multi-culti rejuvenations of the admittedly loosely defined genre.

But one of its most fervent young advocates is Brooklyn singer-pianist Josh Jacobson. He refers to his own music as “future soul” – but the influence of jazz on his work is immediately obvious. Indeed, his new EP, First Light, will be out September 29 via Joshua Tree Records – and tracks like “Tethered,” with its alluring grooves and lush atmospherics, as well as “Fence,” which showcases his soulful falsetto and penchant for sensual romanticism, prove him to be a songwriter who can easily cross complexity and raw emotion, tradition and modernity.

“Jazz is still actively evolving,” he insists, “with the essence of improvisation and instrumental musicianship continuing to fuel much of the modern music I love most. And in New York, more than any other city in the world, jazz is still very much alive – both in its traditional and contemporary incarnations.”

To fete the release, he’ll be appearing live at Schubas in Chicago October 5, NYC’s Mercury Lounge on the 7th, and LA’s Hotel Cafe on the 14th. In the meantime, we asked him to take us through some of his fave places for listening, loving and living jazz in New York.

 

 

 

Smalls

A true musician’s hang. Instead of the dinner tables that fill most jazz clubs, the main area of this basement spot is filled with rows of benches, making it clear that the music is the main attraction here (rather than just an elegant backdrop for a dinner date). There’s a jam session here every night after the late set, and tons of amazing players come through. It doesn’t get going until around 2am, so I’ve had quite a few late ones here. The cover price also gets you into sister venue Mezzrow around the corner.

Village Vanguard

Generally viewed as the best jazz club in the world. From Bill Evans to Brad Mehldau, there are too many amazing “Live at the Village Vanguard” albums to count – and this venue is about as historic as it gets. It’s pricey ($35 cover plus a drink minimum) and does get a fair amount of tourist traffic; but honestly it’s worth it.

 

 

Cornelia Street Cafe

I love the feel of this long, narrow basement venue. Not sure why, but for me it just seems to embody the overall atmosphere of the jazz scene in the Village.

Café Vivaldi

I was here my first night after moving to New York. There’s a lovely grand piano and one of my friends from way back was playing a trio set; so I came alone to check it out and instantly fell in love with the place. It’s not really a “jazz club” per se, but it’s one of many smaller spots in the city – The Wayland is another favorite – that host up-and-coming jazz musicians who are often surprisingly amazing.

 

 

The Owl

A beautiful and tiny venue, this room reminds me of Rockwood. They book a lot of great jazz and classical musicians here.

Rockwood Music Hall

My favorite music venue in New York. There is quite a bit of jazz here, but also every other kind of music imaginable; and what ties it all together is an insanely high level of musicianship. It’s common to spot band members from SNL playing with their side projects here. With three stages (each with its own grand piano) and two additional bars, you can just stumble upon something amazing. The rooms are small but all have great sound and the vibe is always on point. Make sure to check out The After Party, the third Monday of each month.

 

 

Silvana

Books jazz groups early in the evening and then the sound moves into more dance-oriented world and soul music as the night progresses. Upstairs is a cafe and the food is fantastic, as well.

Smoke

A great choice for live jazz uptown. Their bookings lean toward the vocal jazz side of things, but there’s always a diverse range of artists to check out here.

 

 

Barbés

Perhaps more of a bar than a true jazz club. But I like this spot quite a bit, and it’s a great place to see live jazz or join a jam session in Brooklyn – Park Slope, to be specific.

National Sawdust

A “new music” venue with diverse bookings in the realm of jazz, classical and modern experimental music. It’s located right next to Music Hall of Williamsburg, and the geometric design and sound of the performance space is incredibly beautiful.