Smalls Jazz Club is a jazz club located at 183 West 10th Street, Greenwich Village, New York City, New York, United States. Established in 1993, it earned a reputation in the 1990s as a “hotbed for New York’s jazz talent” with a “well-deserved reputation as one of the best places in the city to see rising talent in the New York jazz scene”. Its jazz musicians are noted for being “talented, though largely unknown” while its music is characterized as “modern versions of bebop and hard bop“. The club’s subterranean main room is in a basement, with an original capacity of 50 people, later expanded to 60 people. Smalls Jazz Club should not be confused withHarlem‘s Small’s Paradise, which was founded in 1925 by Ed Smalls and closed in the 1950s.
Smalls Jazz Club was established in 1993 by Mitchell “Mitch” Borden, a former nurse and teacher. Its atmosphere was characterized as being young, bohemian, and talkative. The music started each night at 10:30 PM and would last until 6:00 AM the following morning. The entrance fee was US$10.00; no alcohol was served. Musicians who played here in their earlier years include Ehud Asherie, Ari Hoenig, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Avishai Cohen,Guillermo Klein, Noah Becker, Omer Avital, Mark Turner, Zaid Nasser, Avishai Cohen (trumpeter), Michael Weiss, Sacha Perry, Jason Lindner, and Tommy Turrentine. The house pianist was Frank Hewitt.
Increasing financial difficulties led Borden to close Smalls on May 31, 2003. The closure was due to declining attendance in the post-September 11 days, rent increase in this part of the city, and a smoking ban prohibiting smoking in indoor public places. Smalls’ concerts moved into a pool hall next door, the Fat Cat Club, which was open four nights a week until 2:00 AM. In 2004, the Brooklyn Jazz Underground premiered with four shows at Smalls.
After briefly serving as a Brazilian music venue, Borden and his associates, the musicians Michael “Spike” Wilner and Lee Kostrinsky, reopened Smalls in early 2006. The club was fully restored and refurbished, and the sound quality was improved. Chairs were purchased at 17 different stoop sales, there’s a wall poster of Louis Armstrong, and there is a full service bar. The entrance fee was raised to US$20. The first music set begins at 7:30 PM, and now, instead of the all night jazz sessions, there are two or three sets per night. All concerts are broadcast live on the club website, and are available in replay. The renovated club has featured artists such asBruce Barth, Seamus Blake, Peter Bernstein, Jimmy Cobb, Steve Davis, Joel Frahm, Kevin Hays, Ethan Iverson, Jazz Incorporated (Jeremy Pelt, Anthony Wonsey, Louis Hayes), David Kikoski, Ryan Kisor, Bill Mobley, Tim Ries, Jim Rotondi and Neal Smith.
The Impulse! Records label recorded several albums here in the 1990s, including Live at Smalls. The club has its own record labels, Smalls Records under label owner and producer Luke Kaven, and SmallsLive.