New York

Ain’t Misbehavin’: Jazz in the Big Apple

Visit one of the jazz capitals of the world to learn about the history of the genre at museums, meet with current musicians and take in live shows at the city’s iconic jazz clubs.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23299RJ
5 days
Starts at

At a Glance

New York derives its world-famous nickname ‘The Big Apple’ from 1920s Jazz Age slang. Rich with Jazz history, New York remains one of the best places for live music in the country. Visit neighborhoods like Harlem and Greenwich Village where the genre was cultivated and still pulses today. Meet an industry professional for an insider’s perspective on the life of a Jazz musician, and find out how jazz flourished from the African American experience during the Harlem Renaissance by exploring the National Jazz Museum. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Jazz program without live Jazz performances to appreciate the colorful art form.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to 3 miles per day on city sidewalks, riding subway, climbing stairs. Up to 6 hours of moderate to fast-paces activities per day.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Take a field trip to Harlem’s National Jazz Museum to explore the history of the musical genre.
  • Indulge in an exclusive jazz listening party by musicians and scholars at the Jazz Academy at Lincoln Center.
  • Take in live jazz performances in some of the city’s most iconic clubs, including a finale at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.

General Notes

Program includes independent time to explore the city and several meals on your own. Group Leaders will provide directions for self-directed excursions. Suggestions for free-time activities provided in preparatory materials.
Featured Expert
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Angela Christensen
Angela Christensen is a licensed New York City excursion leader who has extensive experience in event planning and hospitality. She worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society managing events in the Bronx Zoo, Central Park, Prospect Park, the Queens Zoo and the New York Aquarium. Now, she loves showing off her city with lifelong learners from around the world!

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Angela Christensen
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Why Jazz Happened
by Marc Myers
Perhaps read as a companion to one of the more comprehensive historical volumes on this list. Myers focuses on the years 1942-1972 when jazz emerged from its beginnings into a period of ferment, from bebop to fusion. It is more of a social history, providing a look at the forces and events that shaped the form; among them the AF of M strike in the 1940s, changes in radio & concert promotion, the introduction of the LP, suburbanization, the civil rights movement, etc.
The History of Jazz
by Ted Gioia
This encyclopedic work is considered THE authoritative source. Many have indicated it assumes a sophisticated knowledge of jazz awareness. For a similarly in depth, but perhaps more accessible volume, consider Jazz by Gary Giddens.
by Gary Giddens
Directed to the general reader, this is an excellent starting point to learn the background of this musical art form. The more experienced jazz aficionado may wish to consider Gioia's The History of Jazz instead.
How to Listen To Jazz
by Ted Gioia
Award-winning music scholar Ted Gioia presents a lively, accessible introduction to the art of listening to jazz. Covering everything from the music's structure to the basic building blocks of improvisation, Gioia shows exactly what to listen for in a jazz performance. He shares listening strategies that will help readers understand and appreciate jazz for the rest of their lives.
Stormy Weather: The Music & Lives of a Century of Jazz Women
by Linda Dahl
While this book is 30 years old, it is very much of our time today as it looks to shed a much needed light on the women who contributed to making jazz the popular art form it is today.
Lush Life
by David Hajdu
Acknowledged as a jazz classic, this finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award is a vibrant and absorbing biography of the "lush life" of Strayhorn, one of the greatest American composers of all time.
by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison's novel takes place in Harlem during the 1920s and deliberately mirrors the music of its title, with various characters "improvising" solo compositions that fit together to create a whole work. The tone of the novel also shifts with these compositions, from bluesy laments to up beat, sensual ragtime. The novel also utilizes the call-and-response style of jazz music, allowing the characters to explore the same events from different perspectives. Part of a trilogy, it is the middle work between the classic 'Beloved' and 'Paradise.'

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