A Vow to Imagine

I’m sure it’s no surprise that most of our business comes from weddings. Romantic music performed live as two souls celebrate their union makes sense. Unfortunately, “romantic music” isn’t very tangible or objective. It can’t be seen, smelled, tasted, touched or even heard. The songs that one couple consider to be romantic will be different from the next, yet the romantic feeling these songs evoke are the same for both. eL and I like to think that the sounds of the upright bass and voice have been in love forever and we’re just telling a bit of their story. Fortunately, those that are engaged are experiencing that same love story.

As children, we’ve all done our fair share of imagining. We imagine everything from what we want to beDahlias when we grow up to what colors our fancy cars will be. Most of all, we imagine the things, events and accomplishments that will make us happy. As we grow older and allegedly wiser, we begin to realize that some of our childhood dreams may not make us as happy as we had originally envisioned. We modify those dreams accordingly or let them go altogether. Our weddings are no different. Whether you’re five years old or thirty five years old, our dreams of what our weddings will entail are constantly evolving. One of our friends, who was recently married, always wanted red roses for her ceremony. That all changed when she met her soulmate during a springtime stroll through Central Park while dahlias were in bloom.

A similar scenario often unfolds when an engaged couple comes across our videos or catches one of our live performances. We hear about their initial plan to hire a string quartet for their ceremony and cocktail hour but now they’ve fallen in love with our style and aren’t sure what to do. We would love to say that everyone chooses to be bold and hire us instead but many are uncomfortable being different and stick with their original plan. Fortunately for us, there are still a few brave and creative folks out there and as the poet Robert Frost said, “I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” That difference is where we focus our attention and talents. As a duo with unconventional instrumentation, we know that we must handsomely reward our clients so we’ve put a great deal of thought into our wedding packages. We believe we’ve come up with the most personalized form of wedding entertainment that currently exists but it does require a couple to imagine like we all did as children.

Budding relationships usually have soundtracks that go unnoticed. We often wonder if our couples would have ever remembered Taylor Swift singing her heart out during their first kiss or the Romeo Santos songs in the background of a memorable evening taking Bachata lessons. These are the memories we ask them to recall so we can ensure that their wedding’s soundtrack pays homage to their relationship’s journey. Once the songs have been selected, we assist them in choosing the right place for them based on their messages. Some songs have a more celebratory message and are perfect for the recessional while others are more sentimental and better suited for the first dance. The challenge is to not let the style of the original song get in the way. We’re known for transforming club hits and pop songs into beautiful romantic ballads, thus exposing their deeper messages. We also enjoy learning and recreating music from all over the world. So far, we’ve had the privilege of performing in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Latin and several African dialects. We’re looking to add Hebrew, Mandarin and German to the list so if you know anyone…hint, hint! 😉

While it’s my personal opinion that we should be hired for our music, eL, an unrepentant fashionista who needs shopping rehab, believes our look should be as compelling as our sound. At her request, it’s become vital that our attire always stylishly complement the wedding’s theme and décor. We’ve done everything from Gatsby inspired outfits to futuristic vestments she somehow purchased from 2081. Even I have been forced to admit the obvious. Our couples really do enjoy having control of how we look, as well as sound, on their special day. Just remember that I am an unwilling participant in this dressing up thing and will not crack the faintest of smiles if the client has demanded that I wear white pants or pretty much anything pink! -_-

 

Here’s how we enhance a couple’s wedding day:

Ceremony

We start by performing love songs a half hour before the ceremony begins. It’s a wonderful way to set the mood as guests arrive. And since ceremonies rarely start on time, the least a couple can do is entertain their guests until they decide to show up. We then perform our renditions of the couple’s favorites during the processional and recessional. We conclude with another song or two as guests exit.

Cocktail Hour

Cocktail hour is where we have a bit more fun. We usually perform an upbeat set from all genres but this can be customized as well. For example, one of our couples asked us to not play any reggae during cocktail hour since they hired a reggae band for their reception. When we first started doing weddings, we were consistently hired for just the cocktail hour but those couples always offered the same feedback. Their guests loved our performances but since the couples were busy taking pictures and greeting everyone, they never had an opportunity to enjoy us. We want our couples to be 100% happy so we’ve created our First Dance & Dinner package so they can have their own show.

First Dance & Dinner

MM1As you may have gathered, I’m not the most lovey-dovey type but I can’t deny that our unique renditions are perfect for the First Dance. It’s a couple’s first dance together as one. Isn’t it fitting that they dance to a version of their favorite love song that no one has ever heard before? And isn’t it even more fitting that the sounds of just the bass and voice represent the harmony between two people with a profound connection? Speaking of connections, we want all of our couples’ dance moves to be as smooth as our music. That’s why we send them recordings of their First Dance songs beforehand so they can practice and not embarrass themselves. If they would like, we also perform for the Mother-Son and Father-Daughter Dances. After the dances, the couple is able to finally sit down, eat dinner and enjoy us perform. Once the guests are ready to get their booty shaking on, it’s time for the DJ or wedding band to take over.

 

Now it’s time for me to bore you with the decidedly unsexy but important technical aspects of how we make all of this happen. We own three separate high-end sound systems. That enables us to setup a separate system in the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception areas and quickly move between them. Our sound systems are so easy to use that some of our couples have decided to play their own playlists (via an iPod, cell phone, tablet or laptop) through them for the reception and forgo the expense of a DJ. We provide wireless microphones as a courtesy and they regularly come in handy for officiants during ceremonies and announcements and speeches during receptions. If the venue warrants it, we provide a small stage and lighting as well. Although it’s a lot of equipment for us to lug around, it’s necessary since we aim to make our couples’ dealings with us as easy as possible. While we drive all over the Northeast for weddings, we’re also a fantastic option for those getting married abroad. We both love to travel and my bass folds into a much smaller case (think The Jetsons) that’s airline friendly.

Most couples recognize that we are a luxury source of entertainment but we do occasionally get couples who are surprised by what we charge. Perhaps they spoke to a harpist or violinist who quoted them a few hundred dollars to perform for their wedding. That’s similar to the difference in cost and quality of buying a wedding dress off the rack from David’s Bridal versus commissioning Carolina Herrera to create a couture gown. Both options technically get the job done but only the couture gown was created specifically  for the client and will astonish all who lay eyes on it. It requires an exceptional amount of effort, skill, creativity and time so naturally, there’s a higher cost. Our rates are not dramatically higher than the average musician’s but what we offer is infinitely more valuable. This is due to the unparalleled level of personalization we are known for. Ultimately, our ideal couple is not consumed with having the most economical wedding possible. Instead, they embrace imagining an incredible day celebrating their love and know we are the pen and paper they must use to compose their wedding’s soundtrack.

 

eL’s Loyal Manservant

Indebted To Nature

In an age where most of our music is electronically enhanced (I’m trying to be gentle), it’s a really nice feeling to receive compliments for our natural sound. It’s interesting because most people have no idea how how much nature has shaped what we do. I could tell you about how fussy Sadiki is about eating organic foods, juice fasts and cleansing but I want you to keep reading. Instead, I’ll start by telling you about our rehearsals outside on his magical deck.

KnowbleBeing born and raised in Queens and then going to college and working in Manhattan, Sadiki’s place in the middle of the scenic Hudson Valley has always been a relaxing paradise that seemed to be constructed from the pages of a novel. I have written most of my songs in noisy apartments, on the subway or on buses. I’ve then rehearsed them in churches, theaters or studios. It was a new experience to create in an environment where the only things I could hear were birds and crickets engaged in a chirping competition while the wind blowing through the leaves provided a seamlessly disarming backdrop. At first, I had to learn to focus on whatever we were working on. It was SO easy to get distracted watching the hummingbirds chase each other or marveling at the stillness of the frogs who seemed completely at peace sitting right next to us as we rehearsed. Fortunately, I grew accustomed to nature’s charms and and before long, I too was in love with creating and rehearsing outdoors. I discovered a musical freedom there that I hadn’t felt since I was a child and it’s been a tremendous part of our identity ever since.

As much as we enjoy our outdoor songwriting and practice sessions, almost all of our gigs have been indoors at high-end events. We love performing on stage with fancy colored lighting and high-tech sound systems in front of hundreds of well dressed patrons but if I’m being completely honest, it always feels like we’re reenacting the magic that only truly emerges when we’re outdoors. I’ve only realized this truth during the past few months. Last winter was a long and harsh one. It may have been the worst one of my life. If not, the fact that it is the most recent one coupled with my new-found adherence to lady-like behavior (no more sleigh riding or snowball fights) certainly makes it seem so. Like most New Yorkers, I longed for spring’s return. The change in weather brought with it the pleasant gift of several outdoor bookings.

Because we grew used to performing indoors, we initially looked at performing outdoors as a logistical nightmare. Where would we get power from? Would our sound get lost since there were no walls and ceilings? And of course, would the weather cooperate? To make matters worse, our first outdoor event was a rooftop wedding in midtown. While the view was fantastic, it rained on and off all day so everyone was understandably nervous. Fortunately, the rain stopped a few minutes before the ceremony was supposed to begin and we were able to get setup and start performing on time. Although the sun decided to make a fashionable entrance, there wasn’t enough time for it to dry anything including the chairs so all of the guests chose to stand. Although it appeared inconvenient, the ceremony became even more intimate. The puddled rooftop reflected the gorgeous sky and the sun’s rays shining through the moist air created a heavenly glow around everything. The stunning bride walked in to our rendition of Robin Thicke’s Angel and it was truly one of the most breathtaking moments we have ever seen. It certainly set the tone for our other outdoor events.

Since then, we’ve had a few outdoor performances in the Hamptons that were beautiful but pretty much everything out there is beautiful so that’s to be expected. The first thing I noticed was how perfect the temperature was. To be fair, I’m sensitive to temperatures since my biggest professional hazard is having to wear dresses made of about as much fabric as one of Sadiki’s ties. As a result, I’m usually uncomfortably cold whenever we perform. At these outdoor gigs, the sun’s warmth has been such a cozy reprieve. The gentle breeze has also been a welcomed participant. On more than one occasion, it has encouraged the trees to sway along with our music…or did it just seem that way because the legendary Hamptons traffic took a piece of our sanity?

Yacht SunsetAfter one of our Hamptons performances, we were invited to perform on a yacht for a small dinner party. While watching a dazzling sunset, we performed a few tunes during dinner. Towards the end of our set, the ocean was so still that it seemed like we were sailing on a sea filled with stars. The yacht swayed ever so gently and it was during this peaceful juncture we performed My Funny Valentine for a couple visiting from Europe to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The hypnotizing setting inspired us to deliver our most heartfelt performance of the song to date. When we finished, the teary eyed couple was overwhelmed with gratitude. While we graciously accepted their thanks, we shouldn’t have taken all of the credit. We would never have performed the song that way without nature’s assistance.

And for all of this, we say thank you to nature for the many ways it has and continues to inspire us. We just hope it forgives us for expressing our gratitude via a blog post!

eL

Ode to Robin

Robin Williams. For those of us born during the 1980s, he was as much a household name as Sesame Street. Although he was a comic genius and a phenomenal actor, I was always especially impressed with what he was able to do with his voice. My parents were stricter than most so as a young child, I often wasn’t allowed to watch the films and shows he starred in. Because of that, I ended up listening from hallways or other rooms (they never said I couldn’t “listen”!) and it became a game for me to guess which voice was his. Robin was far too talented so I almost always lost but it was the most enjoyable losing experience of my childhood.

Like all of his fans, news of his death was shocking to me. Hearing that he committed suicide struck an even deeper chord. It’s always difficult to accept death but Robin brought so much joy and laughter into our world that it seems like he violated an unspoken rule by moving on without warning. The more thought I gave the situation, the more unfair it seemed that he fell into such a dark place despite the bright light that shone through him. This led me to dig deeper into his story so I could attempt to understand this tragedy. I heard and read everything from “he was tormented by demons who possessed him while he performed and wouldn’t leave once the curtains fell” to the all too common struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, infidelity, loneliness, etc. In the end, I realized that understanding what he actually went through was impossible. All that matters now is a beloved man and quite possibly the most creative force of our era is no longer…and all because of suffering so heavy that it seemed like it could never be resolved.

There’s a song on our upcoming album called Resolve Me and its message is quite appropriate for this topic. The song is basically broken into two pieces. The first piece describes the factors that cause us to be stuck in an unhappy place. Some of these factors include habitually chasing unhealthy desires and embracing poor perspectives of our circumstances. The second half of the song is written from a place of awareness of where these choices are leading us and who we are inadvertently becoming. With that awareness, we can seek the truth and implement it by embarking upon the journey of letting go of the past, discovering, taking responsibility for and loving who we are each and every day and then making the decisions that are truly in our best interests. While we all hope that adopting a new mindset will lead to a change in our circumstances, what happens externally is ultimately out of our control. It may be cliche but all that we can control is how we react to whatever happens. Fortunately, choosing a brighter perspective means we are more likely to see the message and humor in situations that previously would have made us sad or angry. And if we can learn to find the light in life’s darker times, we’ll ultimately be more joyful and at peace.

One last note about Resolve Me. It’s by far our most demanding song to perform. Its melodies, rhythms and lyrics are exceedingly difficult. When we perform it flawlessly, it leaves everyone who hears it feeling vulnerable, convicted and ready to take an honest look in the mirror and deal with their issues. But when our performance of it isn’t quite right, it leaves us feeling haunted and incomplete. This is ironic for several reasons but most of all because it’s so hard to perfect that it’s the last absolute last song we choose to perform whenever we are asked to perform some of our original music…

It’s difficult to find the proper words to end a somber post like this but first we would like to say thank you to Robin Williams. We can’t begin to express how thankful we are for captivating, entertaining and inspiring us all. You will always be missed and may you rest in peace. To those of us that are still here, may we all encourage each other to look inside ourselves, love all that we see, good or bad and accept the daily task of repeatedly solving ourselves. It’s tremendously hard work that may never truly be complete but the reward is well worth the effort.

 

eL

Robin

Finding Fela

I recently had the privilege of seeing Finding Fela. The film is directed by Alex Gibney and shows the life of Fela Kuti, his music and the Broadway musical that helped bring his story to the world. Before I get too far into this posting, I have to be honest and admit that I was initially quite skeptical about this documentary. I’m easily annoyed by people who hold onto things for too long and refuse to let them fade away when they’re supposed to. Because I was part of the original cast of the Broadway show from 2009 to 2011, I assumed that the production company may have been milking Fela’s story a little too long. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

After hearing a few testimonials as well as rumors of footage of the original Broadway cast being in the show, I became a bit curious. I then heard from a friend that the MIST Harlem was showing the film and it dawned on me that I couldn’t pick a more ideal theatre for me to see the film. Being a part of the show introduced me to so much in my life including the simple things like helping me afford to move out on my own to my first apartment in Harlem. When coincidences like that line up, I try to see the message they point to. In this case, the obvious message screamed “El, put your preconceived notions to the side and go see the film!” I showed up early the very next day and noticed that it was the film’s Harlem premier (random coincidence?). After a few speeches, the lights dimmed and the film began. Enjoying footage of our cast performing the opening number led to me getting chills of excitement and smiling from ear to ear. I think I even squealed in delight and startled the unlucky souls seated next to me! I did get control of myself and behaved reasonably well for the rest of the film in case you’re wondering. The nostalgic memories faded away as my amazement for all of the things I began to learn about Fela grew. I saw how his experiences with corruption in his country helped to forge his determination and resolve. Watching his music evolve to Afrobeat was equally entrancing. Because he was bold, slightly outrageous and passionate, I’ve always been a huge Fela fan but the film really helped open my eyes to how brave and strong he was in the face of seeminglyFela Thinking insurmountable obstacles. He always found a way to beat the odds and achieve his goals, even when those closest to him, including his family, believed he would fail miserably. The more examples of this the film showed, the more respect I felt for him and the more inspired I became to carry on his mission. Because he allowed his creativity to flow uninhibited by the existing genres of music, he created his own genre that is now studied and revered in addition to becoming the iconic trailblazer whose story continues to touch the souls of everyone who hears it.

While reflecting on some of the film’s messages later that evening, I couldn’t help but think of some of the challenges Acute Inflections faces creating music that is rich but minimalistic, lyrics that are thought stopping and provoking while having the combination remain easily appreciated and understood by those who may not be musically inclined. It’s hard work and it’s taking us a while to perfect but to summarize one of Fela’s messages from the film, “anything one creates to last must be done right.” We want our music to outlive us and the messages that it delivers to speak wholeness to all that are willing to listen.

One more pseudo random coincidence before I end this verbose post. Sadiki and I met because of Fela. He was a huge fan of the show and saw it several times. We officially met for the first time at a Fela Queen Concert I performed in after the show ended on Broadway and we’ve been musically inseparable ever since. Obviously there’s a lot more to the story like me forcing him to end his ten year retirement from playing and demanding that he drive to Philadelphia and retrieve his bass but if I told you everything, you would have no reason to come back and read more of our posts!

To sum this up, Acute Inflections wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Fela and the incredible life that he lived. Thank you Fela Kuti. We fully intend on carrying on your legacy!

PS – And go see the film TODAY!

 

eL

Three Tips to Make Halloween Charity Events Stand Out

Charity events are important social gatherings. Each year, the community gathers to raise funds for worthy causes by holding parties and other income-generating activities. More than just showing how deep your pockets are, attending charity events or fund raisers is a way to show solidarity with the community. When very busy business people, heads of companies, socialites and influencers pause from their hectic schedules to attend your party, you must be sure that the event is nothing but stellar.

A lot of you may be asking, why hold the charity event on halloween? It may seem unusual, but it’s actually a very good idea. With all the festivities and celebrations associated with the occasion, it’s the perfect to get everyone dressed up and happy to become a generous donor. Here are three tips to make it a successful one:

  1. Hold a Masquerade Ball

    Instead of dressing up in creepy costumes, you can make the fundraiser’s theme as masquerade ball. This gives your guest more creative license on their masks and costumes. They can be as bold and daring as they wish, or whimsical and imaginative if they choose to go down that route. The good thing about masquerade balls is that people who don’t like dressing up can simply use a mask. You can prepare several sets at the registration area in case some guests forget to create or bring one.

  2. Make it an Auction

    A Halloween auction may is not common but isn’t totally unheard of. With everyone in costumes, it will be more exciting when a bidding war arises. Some people are more bold and adventurous when the crowd doesn’t know who they are. Proceeds from the auction will help support the charity’s projects or activities for the next few months.

  3. Dine in the Dark

    Instead of elaborate, thousand dollar dinners, you can offer your guests a different experience by serving them dinner in the dark. A pitch-black venue evokes mystery and uncertainty. Plus, it has been discovered that when one’s senses are dulled, the other ones kick in and go on overdrive. In short, when your guests are diningat a pitch-black room, their taste buds will be heightened and so will their sense of hearing.

These three scenarios aren’t the easiest to accomplish, but it will certainly make an impact on your guests and donors. Don’t forget the basics, though: good food, great music, and always keep the wine flowing!

Unlocking the Evening Party Dress Code

Black Tie affairs

When you’re invited to a corporate event, a benefit, or a gallery opening, do you often wonder what to wear? It’s easy to get lost in the maze of terms (cocktail, semi-formal, black-tie) if you’re someone who did not grow up in these kinds of circles.

But don’t worry, we’ll break everything down for you and get you on the right track to dressing appropriately for social gatherings.

For Women

1. Business Casual and Business Formal

Business casual for women can mean open collar shirts or sweaters teamed with skirts or trousers. No spaghetti straps and tube tops please. Business formal, on the other hand, means a business-style dress, a dress paired with a jacket and high heels. Accessories should be kept to a minimum (no chunky, loud baubles) and some light make-up would do.

2. Festive and Cocktail

Festive is different from themed parties. It does not mean coming in a costume. Some events just want to celebrate an occasion such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, but the dress code pretty much remains the same. Cocktail dresses are shorter than formal dresses and gowns and normally don’t have long sleeves. While most cocktail parties see different versions of the “Little Black Dress”, festive events allow more color. Accessories are welcome in these types of gatherings.

3. Black Tie and White Tie

Black tie gatherings means its time to have your gowns dry cleaned. The bare minimum is an ultra dressy cocktail dress. Otherwise, it’s floor length gowns and some sparkle. High-heels are the norm here as well as tiny clutches. When the invitation indicates white tie, this is even more formal. These could mean formal gowns with trains and bustles and long gowns. Bring out the diamond accessories, or tiaras if you have them. Darker, more dramatic make up and coiffed hair are also must-haves.

For Men

1. Business Casual and Business Formal

It’s actually a little easier for men. Business casual means a dress short or a casual button-down shirt teamed with slacks. Ties are optional but a sport coat or dinner jacket is considered tasteful. Loafers and socks are the bare minimum. For business formal, a conservative tie and a dark business suit is expected. It is also classy to wear a vest and matching dress shoes.

2. Festive and Cocktail

For men, the festive and cocktail gatherings can be differentiated by the tie you choose to wear. Playful and colorful ties are the norm in festive soirees. They can wear light-colored suits or even slacks and a sport coat. Cocktail events on the other hand require dark business suits, dress shirts and shoes and a conservative tie.

3. Black Tie and White Tie

This is where it gets exciting for men. Black tie affairs call for the dapper suits and the slicked hair. Black tuxedo jacket and matching trousers require a formal white shirt, a vest and a bow tie. Team this with black patent shoes and black dress socks. Cuff links, yes. Gloves, no.

White tie events on the other hand, require more pomp and glamour. Men are expected to wear a black dress coat teamed with matching trousers. Interestingly, a single stripe or satin braid is added to the trousers in the US; and two stripes in the UK and Europe. White vest, white bow tie and white or grey gloves complete the look. Finish off with shirt studs and cuffs as well as shiny black patent shoes.

Formal parties do indicate the dress code when they send out the invitations. Be mindful of themes and special instructions (for example: hats or Gatsby theme) so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb. In the unfortunate event that you come to a party under or overdressed, don’t ruin your evening over it. Trust your confidence and personality to carry you through.

6 Things to Consider When Planning a Wedding Proposal

Who does not want a romantic proposal? Wedding proposals are intended to express utmost love and affection to one’s partner. The main key to a successful proposal is to keep the focus on the main characters, the couple.

To help you with this, these are 6 things to consider when planning a wedding proposal:

  1. It’s all about her

    There is no such thing as perfect partner or perfect proposal. But you can still make it perfect for your one true love. Make your proposal very intimate and personal. It has to be all about her. You definitely know what will make her smile, so go for it. Design and organize a proposal that is personalized and tailored fit to her wants.

  2. Be yourself.

    Proposals are definitely nerve racking, and it pays to be comfortable and at ease at all times. One of the most effective secrets is to just be yourself the whole time. Sometimes, long speeches will not work. It’s better to just keep it short and sweet. Refrain from memorizing your script, rather speak from your heart. Your genuine message will definitely come through no matter how nervous you are.

  3. Have your family and closest friends around.

    Since this is considered as a special day not only for you and your partner, but for your family and closest friends as well, make sure that you make them a part of this most special day. Send out invitations at least 1 week ahead to give them enough time to arrange their schedules and secure their presence. Make sure to warn them that this is a surprise. It would be a major let down if someone squeals or blabs.

  4. Get someone to take photos or videos.

    A special day like this should be immortalized through photos and videos. Make sure that someone is recording this special event. These memorabilias will be a wonderful reminder of this romantic and intimate part of your marriage.

  5. Make sure that you have your engagement ring ready.

    Among all the things you need to prepare for, getting the perfect wedding ring is the most important one. It doesn’t have to be too expensive, most especially if you are working around a budget. But make sure that you will spend enough time in choosing the best ring for your future wife.

  6. Throw a Party.

    A few days or weeks after the proposal, it would be nice to hold a small gathering for friends and family. You can hold it a hotel or a restaurant to keep it intimate. Just formally make the announcement and ask your guests to save the date for your wedding. Make this gathering more romantic and memorable by inviting Acute Inflections to be your entertainment for the evening.

  7. These are just basic tips for you to consider when planning a wedding proposal for your special someone. Bear in mind that sometimes, the simplest preparations are the sweetest ones. So focus more on what will make your future wife happy and give it your best!

    Contact us at 800-610-0704 for booking information!

Top 5 Favorite Jazz Clubs in NYC

Blues and jazz have an extensive history in this town, which used to host defining establishments like the Lenox Lounge, Cotton Club, and the first Birdland. Even though most of the classic venues are no longer around — some of which have been turned into tourist attractions and museums of sorts — there are still an abundance of clubs around the city where you can indulge in live music. Check out some of our favourite jazz clubs in NYC, and let us know what yours are in the comments below.

Knowble 2VILLAGE VANGUARD: The underground jazz club in the West Village is almost 80 years old, and some musicians consider it an honor to play there. Regarded by many as the jazz equivalent of Carnegie Hall, this modest place is known for its superior acoustics and flawlessly controlled mood lighting, both of which sync with the performances on stage. However, the seating areas can be quite narrow. That aside, the Village Vanguard is all about the music, not the visual performance. In fact, several critically acclaimed artists, such as Bill Evans and Miles Davis, have performed here while patrons listened to their act with their eyes closed. You can actually feel the vibration of sound when certain musicians practice their craft. The Village Vanguard generally charges $25 to get in with a one-drink minimum. There is no reserved seating, so it pays to arrive early.

JAZZ STANDARD: This affluent Flatiron venue is a cross between the gaudiness of Time Square and the intimacy of some of the West Village clubs. You’ll often find barbecue being served while patrons listen to blues and jazz in this roomy-yet-plush space. The club has played host to infamous jazz musicians, such as Jimmy Cobb and Bill Frisell, as well as the sensational 10-piece Mingus Big Band (sometimes playing as the Mingus Dynasty or Mingus Orchestra). Because the Jazz Standard is situated under the Blue Smoke restaurant, patrons of the club feast on items from the eatery’s menu during a performance.

BLUE NOTE: Calling itself the “the jazz capital of the world”, the Blue Note has featured live performances by Charlie Haden, Cecil Taylor, and other known artists, as well as newer talent, like the Bad Plus. Inside the narrow venue, tables are situated inches away from one another. Regular guests don’t seem to mind though. In fact, such closeness at the Blue Note has become synonymous with Sunday brunches, as well as the Late Night Groove series.

IRIDIUM: The upper-class crowds who frequent Iridium come to see a mix of established blues artists and obscure jazz players. The views and acoustics are what keep bringing those crowds back. The Iridium was the place to visit guitarist Les Paul on Monday nights, and in his absence, various recognizable jazz musicians pay musical tribute to him on those same weeknights.

BIRDLAND: Birdland is where Midtown’s resurgence of jazz took place. Great jazz artists, such as Kurt Elling, Joe Lovano, Aaron Neville and John Pizzarelli are the attractions that drew in patrons. In-house bands are also beloved at the venue, particularly the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, who is a mainstay of Sunday evenings.