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.