From the sensational scats to the soulful songs, jazz has a way of personifying the song our heart sings in our trying and terrific times. An amazing experience for all (whether you’re a hip hepcat or a jazz newbie), this music genre will have its listeners enchanted by its siren song of harmonic bliss.
Whether you prefer a bar or going to the Jazz Festival when Autumn in London is in full bloom, jazz in London is the perfect background music while you explore this city’s underbelly.
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With a stunning array of jazz clubs and bars in London, which jivey establishments are the cat’s pyjamas of providing an exceptional experience? We’ll guide you through the city’s dark alleyways to unearth the jazz gems of London.
Whether you’re looking for a proper jazz dive or prefer listening to this art form in an establishment embellished with elegant trimmings, London will provide the goods. Take a look at the best clubs and bars to embrace the hypnotic notes of jazz in full throttle:
From the dimmed lighting to the funky tunes of renowned jazz artists, this hopping hub is the bee’s knees when it comes to providing a fantastic nightly activity. This swinging establishment opened its doors in 1985 in Soho and has hosted some of the most famous singers in history, including the late Amy Winehouse.
With a variation of live music on the menu, such as jazz and R&B, you’ll have the opportunity to shake your hips to a diverse set of swaying sounds. Order a round of Cuba Libres for the table to make your already hot and happening evening even spicier.
Location: 9 Greek St, London W1D 4DQ, United Kingdom.
A bar that needs no introduction for the jazz community, Ronnie Scott’s is a definite Hall of Famer when it comes to historic jazz clubs.
In the main room, you can enjoy a wonderful meal while listening to the intoxicating timber of various instruments. With a full stomach and heart, this establishment knows how to create the perfect ambience for a memorable experience.
With a tightly packed schedule of live music events each week, you’ll need to book a ticket post-haste to ensure you secure a spot. Alternatively, you can make your way to the upstairs bar to enjoy a carefully crafted cocktail.
Location: 47 Frith St, London W1D 4HT, United Kingdom.
Deep within the underground where darkness reigns, a light emerges from the tunnel in the form of a smooth jazz tune beckoning you to it. The Vaults in London are a discontinued set of railway arches in the Waterloo district where various artforms come alive in its shadowy presence.
The Hidden Jazz Club is a well-known secret that will take your live jazz experience to a whole new level. In this moodily lit space, you’ll be in the centre of the action, as patrons are seated around the various bands to create an intimate happening.
Location: In the Leake Street graffiti tunnel.
A Chelsea-based live music venue that will undoubtedly put the hop back into your step, the 606 Club is the perfect place to get lost in the rhythm of some toe-tapping tunes. From smooth like butter jazz to the hailing wails of gospel music, you’ll have a ball sampling the many flavours of music genres on offer.
This dive, located in a small basement, is the ultimate way to experience the real ‘speakeasy’ vibe jazz is known to frequent. With 120 seats and seven times a week entertainment, this tightly packed marvel will have you captivated by its rough yet authentic edges.
Location: 90 Lots Rd, London SW10 0QD, United Kingdom.
A jazzy joint located in the captivating corners of Camden, visiting the Jazz Cafe is one of the top things to do in the area. With seating located on the establishment’s first floor, you’ll have a fantastic view from above of the show below.
From the vegetarian splendour of jackfruit-filled tacos to the meaty pleasures of a good ol’ fashion cheeseburger, a side of soulful food with your jazz is a plus. You’ll experience a very different atmosphere on weekends as Club Nights are in full swing, filled with party-going patrons.
Location: 5 Parkway, London NW1 7PG, United Kingdom.
A darling hole in the wall that has lively jazz playing seven days a week, you’ll get a taste of what jazz nights are all about. From well-known music artists to weekly jam sessions, this homey space is where this artform comes alive in this candlelit bar.
From its almost unnoticeable entrance to its quirky deco, this London jazz bar is the place to be if you’re looking for the best-hidden treasure of jazz in South East London.
Location: 9 Nevada St, London SE10 9JL, United Kingdom.
An art deco space with an elegant French flair, Toulouse Lautrec is a great place to experience jazz’s je ne se quoi. With various floors to experience a night filled with diverse adventures, this night out will tickle anyone’s fancy.
While the ground and first floor are reserved for fine dining and a lovely piano bar, the second floor is where the jazz-filled soiree is happening. With marble tables embellished with the golden glow of lamps within an intimate atmosphere, the memorable melodies envelop the room in a whirlwind of tasty tunes.
You can also enjoy a French-infused menu while you wait for the show in anticipation, such as a charcuterie palette to nibble on.
Tip: As the jazz club has limited seating, reserve tickets well before to avoid disappointment.
Location: 140 Newington Butts, London SE11 4RN, United Kingdom.
A hazy little dive with electrifying energy wafting in the air for patrons waiting for the show to begin, this escape for the night is one of the best jazz bars London offers.
This establishment has checkered tablecloths and a real down-to-earth feel, so you know you’ll experience the complexities of jazz like a true local. You’re in for a night to remember with vintage-style room decorations and an eclectic menu.
Location: 4 Bradbury St, London N16 8JN, United Kingdom.
A non-profit jazz club that oozes creativity in all its forms, Vortex is the head-bobbing haven you’ve been looking for. While it had a variation of venue types in the past, such as an art gallery and bookshop, this place found its real groove when the sporadic jazz events became a permanent fixture.
From Black History Month instalments to completely impromptu jazz sessions, Vortex provides a unique experience with every visit.
Location: 11 Gillett Square, London N16 8AZ, United Kingdom
If you’re looking for an experience that’s a borderline religious affair, this holy space is the answer to your prayers. This jazz venue in London is located in the Crypt of the St. Giles Church and is known to provide a look into the hidden depths of this art form’s indescribable beauty.
This off the beaten path joint is the ultimate way to have a jazz night with a twist, which is perfect for meeting up with friends or making some along the way. With sultry saxophone tunes and the bolstering bellow of trumpets, you’ll be dancing all the way home when the venue closes.
Location: St Giles Church, Camberwell St, United Kingdom.
While it’s tempting to have a jazz night in London and spontaneously crash a jazz gig or two, you should always have a plan of action before embarking on a jazzy adventure. Take a look at the tricks of the trade to ensure your night goes off without a hitch:
- Book beforehand – London jazz bars are known to be hosted in small events to keep the intimate essence of the art form. Do your research and peruse your favourite events to book your tickets well in advance.
- Take some earplugs – While listening to live jazz music in London is always a fun time, the inevitable ringing in your ears might put a damper on things. You should take a handy pair of earplugs if it gets too loud.
- Arrive on time – To ensure you don’t do the clumsy dance of trying to find your designated table in the dark, you should arrive early to secure your table and get a drink before the event begins.
From modern jazz to swing music, jazz bars in London have a way of making any night in this city unforgettable. With various jazz types to choose from, you’ll be able to pick and choose a club or bar that suits your ragtime needs.
So, put on your dancing shoes and head on downtown, as this city is ready to be painted red while discovering the jovial jazz clubs in London. Can you dig it?