Yes, it is a pretty Harry Warren song from 1931. But I mean a real walk — a jazz walk.
Paul Blair, someone who knows his jazz, has been editing the local jazz monthly called Hot House for the past six years. And he’s also been conducting walking tours through various New York neighborhoods. This home-grown enterprise – operating under the name SwingStreets (www.SwingStreets.com) – began with a focus on historic local jazz addresses: musicians’ homes and hangouts, clubs past and present. Paul’s led outings in Midtown, Greenwich Village, the East Village, Bed-Stuy and Fort Greene-Clinton Hill.
Lately, he’s broadened his approach and now also leads folks with absolutely no interest in jazz through particularly distinctive Outer Borough neighborhoods they’d be unlikely to explore on their own. Still, his most popular tour remains the one covering Harlem.
A typical tour (one Paul conducted two weeks ago) went like this: “We begin at 11:30 AM in front of 3940 Broadway (a prominently numbered building situated on the NE corner of Broadway and 165th St.) and, after strolling at a fairly leisurely pace, end up at the corner of Lenox Ave. and W. 125th St., near Sylvia’s Restaurant. I’m always willing to take people further, if they wish, to see Minton’s, down on W. 118th St, near where Otto Hardwicke and Benny Carter once lived. For those arriving from downtown for a tour, I always suggest taking a subway (either the A or the 1) to the 168th St. station, then walking three short blocks south to our meeting point. People purchase tickets for those Harlem tours online through my website. And many of my fellow strollers have surnames suggesting that they’re overseas visitors to the city.”
It costs $25 for two hours, and each participant takes home a free jazz CD.
I want to see where Otto Hardwicke lived. Don’t you?