Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Big Apple Jazz: Ez Woodshed Cafe

by Kim (writer), Los Angeles, November 14, 2008


A superb cafe and cultural space

It was located in Harlem, New York on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd between West 131 and 132nd Street. The space was an invigorating cafe that was a true gem. Although it closed its doors June 24, 2008, the venue remains a memorable location in the hearts of many. The " Big Apple" or "Woodshed" was a favorite for afternoon Jazz seekers as they could come in and experience live Jazz performed by local jazz musicians, enjoy a cup of coffee, tea, or a soft drink, absorb a compelling read from one of the wide variety of books on hand, pick up a CD of Jazz artists ranging from John Coltrane to community Jazz vocalist Annette St. John. And, a host of other Straight Ahead to Swing Jazz Artists.

In addition to this, there were varied forms of artwork to catch your eye.

The cafe was owned and operated by Gordon Polatnick. I would like to share their mission statement which I'm sure was fulfilled every day they were opened until the sad evening of the venue's closing.

"We exist to promote this neighborhood as the epicenter of the jazz explosion that shook the world in the 1920's and continues to shape the world's musical and cultural landscape to this day." Gordon Polatnick

My first visit of many to the creative setting was February, 2005. I related with the live Jazz during day time hours and felt that was a real plus with all the other features the "Woodshed" offered. The owners were friendly, engaging, and quite knowledgeable about Jazz, New York, and other areas of interest.

You could bring children with you and there was always some avid clientele on hand to give you the scoop on Harlem, Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and other communities surrounding New York from a Jazz historical perspective and other interesting correlations.

The website is yet available for browsing with a few links of nostalgia.

Gordon, the Big Apple Jazz Cafe and Bookstore will is greatly missed by not only east coast locals. I personally lament its departure. The next visit I make to New York, I hope to stop by and play a tribute at the spot that was so special. Several of my friends here on the west coast of whom I steered your way are dismal at this time. Many of us listened faithfully to the live music your website, it to keep us connected with your cafe.

All the best in future endeavors and may your mission statement remain alive through numerous other spaces through New York and all over the world.

About the Writer

Kim is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
Want to write articles too? Sign up & become a writer!

5 comments on Big Apple Jazz: Ez Woodshed Cafe

Log In To Vote   Score: 6
By Kim on November 14, 2008 at 06:30 pm


I remember you mentioning that before and I'm sorry to hear that.  It is indeed sad.

Take care,


 Report abuse

Log In To Vote   Score: 6
By Kim on November 14, 2008 at 07:12 pm

That's terrible...well, I guess that's just my opinion...I suppose these universities need space...but I hate to see so many of the old venues succumb to the economy and the sole use of these schools. I have nothing against Columbia or NYU, both fine schools, I just wish the "character' of the city could stay in tact. There's a place, Arthur's Tavern I hear is great...its been in N.Y. since 1937, hosting Jazz, food, drinks, etc. I didn't get to go last time I was in NYC but I hope to go next time...I hear things have changed drastically at Village Vanguard, Uptown Lounge at Minton's was really a great place for food and Jazz last year when I was there and that's on 118th between Adam Clayton Powell and St. Nicholas...I hope it remains open. There were many cafes in the Village area I used to love to visit...I wonder if those are yet in business...I guess all we can do is hope for the best...

 Report abuse

Log In To Vote   Score: 5
By Kim on November 16, 2008 at 07:43 pm

Thanks, Morgana.

And, Thanks for links to these organizations. I'll defintely check out what you have listed here.

 Report abuse

Log In To Vote   Score: 4
By Kim on November 17, 2008 at 10:12 am

Hi Julian,

Thanks for sharing. I did go to Minton's in Frbruary of 2007. I like some of the smaller venues like Bill's Place in Harlem too. Birdland and Village Vanguard are big as you mentioned. The thing is, the last time I was at Village Vanguard they had an artist playing expertimential  type music...which is ok...I guess...its just that the venue has been known for Straight Ahead Jazz.  Sometimes, Birdland has various styles of "Jazz or other music" .

But, I remember when Paul Ellington (Duke's Grandson) played their once when I had gone.

Jjust noticed a lot of the bigger venues are branching out to not only playing Straight Ahead Jazz. As you said, no shortage on Jazz...just changes. an I noticed changes in just a couple of the bigger venues...

Thanks again!


 Report abuse

Log In To Vote   Score: 4
By Kim on November 17, 2008 at 10:14 am

oops... sorry about that...February of 2007...

"and I noticed changes in just a couple of of the bigger venues"

 Report abuse

Add A Comment!

Click here to signup or login.

Rate This Article

Your vote matters to us