Bushwick Bird Watching Jazz Club serves vegan food and free nightly jam sessions: Bushwick Daily


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The tropical-themed bar Bodeguita officially closed its doors last summer, but the keys have been handed over to what is quickly becoming Bushwick’s local jazz center: the Ornithology Jazz Club at 6 Suydam St.

It is a small, intimate space with a grand piano, among other instruments, in the center of the room on the first floor. There are chairs lined up on one wall and booths along another. Towards the rear is the bar. The upper floor has a few tables and chairs, chess sets, and paintings on display by local artists.


Ornithology interior

Rie Yamaguchi-Borden, who owns Ornithology alongside her husband Mitchell Borden, is herself a jazz musician, having performed weekly at Bodeguita for the past year. Both are well immersed in the New York jazz scene. Mitchell opened Smalls in 1994, which went through a series of hurdles to keep its doors open, and then Fat Cat in 2000, which has since reopened as Cellar Dog.

About a year ago, after moving to Bushwick from the West Village, Mitchell and Rie also founded the non-profit Gotham Yardbird Sanctuary in response to the ongoing global pandemic, which has hit the jazz community hard. New York in 2020. Through the initiative, the non-profit organization provides jazz musicians and other artists with immediate employment while providing the public with free access to performances at local clubs and bars.


The upper floor where you can find chess sets and paintings by local artists.
The group Joe Magnarelli Trio during the first evening of the Opening Gala at Ornithology on October 28, 2021. Image from the Instagram account of Ornithology.

Rie explained that the Ornithology character is designed from an “artist’s point of view,” which includes not only the musicians who come to play, but also the people they have come to know in the neighborhood and from. other artists who try to make a living doing what they love.

“We’re kind of in the lineage of older folk music, the jazz renaissance in the Village of the 60s… It’s not such a lonely trip. It’s a community of artists, ”Mitchell said.

Jazz music requires you to be in a place where you can play with other people you want to play with,” Rie added.

With jam sessions happening every night of the week and open mics every Wednesday, there’s always something going on at Ornithology. Musicians are free to try out an original piece and experiment. The idea, according to Mitchell and Rie, is to create a “permissive environment” where music can be explored.

“Musicians run everything,” Mitchell said.


Local bartenders Layla Kovacevic and Luciano Flor who also painted many pieces found at Ornithology.

The new jazz club is also equipped with an innovative signature cocktail menu, curated by bartenders Layla Kovacevic and Luciano Flor. In addition to regular beer, mojitos and margaritas, you will find “The Green Dolphin” which tells the story of “a dead and reborn cucumber in the form of a dolphin swimming in the river of wormwood and mint ”, among other creative blends. .

Ornithology’s vegan and rotating menu also allows chefs to express their individualities. When asked why they chose an all-vegan menu, Rie, who had worked in a kitchen before, explained that veganism is a practical quality that avoids perishables and eliminates waste, but it also tells about their fashion. of life.

“I think animals are amazing, sentient beings and have souls. I don’t deserve to kill anything, ”Mitchell added. “I grew up on a farm like this, and we never killed a single thing. All of our animals have lived to be 35 years old. We had a pig that was getting bigger and bigger. The cow was amazing at 25. It looked like a tank.

Initially, Mitchell shared that he was skeptical of Bushwick’s location due to the many EDM and house music clubs in the area, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the community was open-minded and welcoming to the jazz club.

“I’m really proud of the Bushwackers, or whatever the name is. They are here and they may be putting aside the other music that they invested in. I know for a fact that some people who come in have never heard jazz music before, ”Mitchell said.

Over time, Mitchell and Rie expect more musicians to find their way into this little gem of a neighborhood.

“Word is going to get out,” Mitchell said. “You get a good piano, a nice bass, a nice drums and the musicians will come. I mean, think of a bird sanctuary. First of all, it’s all the local birds and then somehow the birds migrate a bit, and they’ll say, “Hey, I know a great place to hang out,” then they will come from afar. “


Owners Mitchell Borden and Rie Yamaguchi-Borden with their dog Winnie.

Keeping the theme of the Gotham Yardbird Sanctuary, ornithology is the study of birds, and it’s also the name of a song composed by saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Benny Harris. If you visit the Ornithology website, you will see a quote attributed to Charlie Parker which states, “Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom.

Follow Ornithology Jazz Club on its Instagram account, where weekly events are announced. There is never a cover charge. You can sit down with food and drink while listening to the musicians of the evening.


All images provided by Allie Iliana Herrera, unless otherwise noted.

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