We’re bummed (and embarrassed) about this: Due to a production error, it looks like a couple of our Best of NYC winners in the Arts & Entertainment category didn’t make it to print. They’re online here, snuggled up nice and cozy-like to the rest of the issue, but didn’t make the final physical book. What you’ll find in the paper instead is another group of winners that were printed twice, an error that makes this year’s Village Voice Best of NYC issue as rare and priceless as the T206 Honus Wagner card. So you should definitely go grab a real-life dead-tree issue or two out of our little red boxes all across the city. But hurry — we’ve already seen a few dozen on eBay. In the meantime, peep these much-deserved winners and read the rest of the issue here. Congrats to all the Best of NYC champs!
Best Club DJ
DJ Jonathan Toubin
Home Sweet Home (every Friday), 131 Chrystie Street, Manhattan 10002, newyorknighttrain.com
With most DJs doing their best Steve Aoki impressions in the club, DJ Jonathan Toubin‘s “New York Night Train” has felt more refreshing than ever. At his Home Sweet Home residency (beginning at 10:30 p.m. every Friday), Toubin and a slew of special guests spin 45s of the best and most obscure soul and early rock ‘n’ roll. You can do the mashed potato or you can do the twist in this underground cave of a club, where you’ll be surrounded by taxidermy and some serious fans of old-school tunes, or you can catch him at Brooklyn Bowl one Saturday out of every month. Who doesn’t want Sam Cooke to soundtrack their night out?
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If you’re looking for a “what” to turn down for, make sure it’s Gina Turner‘s yoga sessions, because she is the only person who could get you truly turnt-up again. Though the native New Yorker knows how to stay Zen, she is first and foremost a fiercely wonderful DJ serving up the hottest house and techno mixes you can dream of. At MetLife stadium this past Memorial Day weekend, Turner was one of very few female DJs in the lineup, but her set may have been the best of the weekend, proving her ascent to be a reality. When she’s not doing yoga with Diplo or hyping up clubs around the world, Turner is playing the role of new and very, very cool mom to the DJ world’s answer to Blue Ivy; last spring Turner and her husband, Laidback Luke, also a DJ, welcomed into this world their first child together. Much like Blue Ivy’s ‘rents, that hasn’t slowed the couple down one bit.
Readers’ Choice: Jonathan Toubin
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531 East 5th Street, Manhattan 10009,
When the pinball machines and vintage lunchboxes aren’t distracting you, Ace Bar has a pretty mean number of tunes coming out of its speakers. Whether from the jukebox or otherwise, Ace offers a weird, diverse selection of artists you can hear in the middle of the night (or earlier, if you’re into that). While sipping on your final beer, don’t get too distracted by the Linkin Park song you still remember the lyrics to blasting around you, because soon a forgotten-though-never-far-from-your-heart ’90s gem will sneak up on you and bring out more nostalgia than any internet listicle ever could. The jukebox has one of the city’s best collections, so no matter what song a stranger chooses, your ears will still feel overjoyed in this East Village dive.
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19 West 8th Street, Manhattan 10011,
Full disclosure: Analogue does not actually have a jukebox. It has something significantly more awesome, in the form of a vintage Thorens turntable running through a Citation solid-state tube amp, which, in turn, drives a pair of bomb-ass speakers (Bozak Symphonies, if you’re keeping score). It also has an owner: former investment banker Jared Gordon, whose private vinyl collection is more than 5,000 titles strong. And here’s the best part: He will happily play just about anything in his stash. Gordon is a jazz and blues head — his collection contains some obscure recordings that will make your head spin — but he has plenty of other gems, too (on a recent trip, we spotted some choice Bowie and vintage East Coast hip-hop titles). And he’s game to play it all. The year-old Analogue also happens to have an impressive drink menu. Gordon likes to think of his joint as an “unpretentious craft cocktail establishment that happens to play good music.” And he’s not far off: It’s not a jazz club, but it probably plays more jazz than any bar you’ll visit this year; it boasts a number of expertly made cocktails, but they’re not made by a twisty-mustached hipster who uses beakers and Bunsen burners. It’s a jukebox kind of bar. It just doesn’t have a jukebox.
Best Jazz Club
178 Seventh Avenue South, Manhattan 10014,
Of New York’s great jazz rooms, the Village Vanguard has the edge in terms of historical pedigree, sound, unique physical space, and ever-broadening booking policy, representing jazz across many generations and aesthetic viewpoints. The calendar is something: radical offerings from Henry Threadgill and John Zorn alongside great and underrated pianists George Cables, Kirk Lightsey, and Harold Mabern; young bandleaders of note such as Fabian Almazan and Rudy Royston next to established masters Fred Hersch, Tom Harrell, Joe Lovano, and Dave Douglas. The Vanguard opened in 1935 under Max Gordon, who ran it until his death in 1989. (The 80th anniversary is soon upon us, with 91-year-old Lorraine Gordon, Max’s widow, still at the helm). Classic Live at the Village Vanguard albums abound — suffice it to say that examples by John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Bill Evans leap to mind. Now bands play for six nights straight, which means they’re allowed to grow and evolve. There’s a beauty in seeing saxophonist Ravi Coltrane invent and push ahead with his extraordinary quartet on the same bandstand where his father brought enduring glory to the Vanguard name back in ’61.
Readers’ Choice: Blue Note
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The Blue Note
131 West 3rd Street, Manhattan 10012,
Got $20? Then with a little savvy you can hear — and glimpse — the greats doing their thing. A seat at a table at The Blue Note runs, for most weeknight shows, $35. But a seat at the bar at the club’s entrance, off to the right of the stage, generally costs you a double sawbuck. (Prices go up according to a simple methodology: If the headliner is someone you can imagine having turned up on The Cosby Show — say, Chick Corea, or Kenny G — then any seat will cost you, but the table/bar breakdown is proportionally similar: $75 to $45 for Corea.) There’s a trick, though: You can’t score a barstool in advance, so to catch Lou Donaldson, or Donald Harrison and Eddie Henderson, or that ridiculous Odean Pope/Pharoah Sanders/James Carter combo, for about one-fifth of the price of your monthly MTA pass, you have to show up early. Doors open at 6 for the 8 p.m. show and at 9:45 for the 10:30; we recommend popping your head in and then, if there are plenty of seats left, you can duck out to John’s Pizzeria.
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Best Jazz Artist
Medeski Martin & Wood remain one of the most accessible, vital, and goose-bump-producing jazz ensembles on the scene today, for more reasons than could possibly fit in a blurb. Although they’ve (unfortunately, and unfairly) become associated with the much-maligned jam-band scene, the Brooklyn-spawned trio (John Medeski, Billy Martin, and John Wood) have been making hypertechnical, boundary-pushing jazz since the early 1990s. It’s the kind of music that people who hate jazz might — just might — come to adore, and after more than 20 years together, these guys anticipate each other’s licks like they’re joined at the brain stem. For the uninitiated, the bouncy funk of their breakthrough Shack Man (1996) is a good place to start, what with its roiling, bass-heavy riffs that get the longhairs swinging. But keep Combustication (1998) on hand to chase off the hippies; the darker turns and eerie electronic samples will quickly turn their trip toward the bad. The band continues to innovate: The expansive, three-part Radiolarians series (2008–09) ranges from near-pop playfulness to decidedly abstract. They’ve since been playing New York City and the world and putting out live recordings as they go. Catch them in the city by all means — just ignore the granola crunchers.
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