The Iridium opened in January 1994 at 63rd Street and 8th Avenue as the “Iridium Room Jazz Club”, a basement room below the Merlot restaurant across from Lincoln Center booking “traditional, swinging jazz musicians of the second or third level”. The original location underwent three renovations, then in August 2001 moved to its current location at 1650 Broadway on 51st Street. Unlike many of New York City’s jazz clubs, The Iridium has remained open to the present day, with the help of some major renovations to keep up with the number of attendees.
There have been many major releases recorded live at Iridium, from artists like Kenny Garrett, Jacky Terrasson, Charlie Haden, Kenny Barron, Benny Carter, The Jazz Messengers, Sweets Edison, and Clark Terry.
Beginning in 1995 and continuing until his death at age 94, guitar legend Les Paul performed weekly at the club.
According to New York magazine, “the Iridium does its best to recreate the halcyon days of the 1920s and 1930s. Sure, the air’s no longer smoky, the décor’s a shadow of what it was and you’re sitting knee-to-knee with the European tourists at the next table, but true jazz aficionados overlook those minor details to hear sets played by some of the best-known names in the biz: vocalist Jimmy Scott, guitarist Mike Stern, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, and the Mingus Legacy bands, to name a few.”