The closing of midtown’s Jazz Standard and the renovation/expansion of the Upper West Side’s Smoke—both a result of the pandemic—have created room for recovery and further competition in the city’s jazz club world.
Tribeca’s Ritz Hotel (the 1 Train Franklin Street station exit staircase rises almost exactly at the hotel’s front door) has long offered a cellar performance space. I saw the Japanese Hammond B3 virtuoso Akiko Tsuruga play there. The cellar/cavern is intimate enough that after her performance I simply walked over to engage in a bit of welcomed conversation. The main floor lobby features a piano where jazz combos play before and during dinner hours.
Now, the cellar has reopened as Django, retaining its vaulted ceilings and brick walls, and becoming the new Tuesday home for the fourteen-piece Mingus Big Band. The band held a years-long privileged residency at the old Jazz Standard.
Django‘s food offerings—roast chicken, hamburgers, fried chicken sandwiches and so forth—’dinner plates’ as they’re called—and seafood appetizers are priced as high as those atmospheric ceilings.
Cocktails appeal on the basis of names alone—Herbal Hancock, Ruby My Dear, La Bamba, The Five Spot—and are all offered at slightly less than $20.