To believe jazz lore, bebop was born on the stage of Minton’s during epic jam sessions in which Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk were regulars. Opened in 1938 on New York’s 118th Street in Harlem, the club was shuttered in the ’70s and attempted a relaunch in 2006 that lasted only four years. But thanks to the investment and business savvy of former Time Warner CEO and jazz aficionado Richard Parsons, Minton’s has been utterly transformed. Once a dive bar with Bud Light signs in the windows, it’s now the latest exemplar of Harlem’s re-renaissance, with elegant interiors, excellent cocktails and Southern-inspired food by chef Alexander Smalls, who also oversees The Cecil restaurant next door. The house band—longtime sidemen in the trenches of jazz—plays standards at an intensity that rewards serious listening but also allows for conversation. At 206 W. 118th St.; 212-243-2222; mintonsharlem.com.
Harlem Jazz: Minton's
A long-dormant temple of jazz is resurrected as one of Manhattan’s most sophisticated new evening spots.