Best Jazz Clubs Around the World

If you love jazz, heading to a jazz club is an excellent way to spend an evening. While being able to experience great music is usually the main goal, the best jazz clubs in the world also offer more than just fantastic music. The atmosphere can play a big role. Similarly, choosing a jazz club with historical significance can make the time spent there even more meaningful.

There are many amazing jazz clubs in the world. If you are looking for the absolute best jazz clubs, here are the ones you need to explore.

Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club

Established in 1959 by a jazz musician, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London is steeped in history. Performers like Miles Davis, Chet Baker, and Ella Fitzgerald have all spent time on the stage here and recorded live albums at the venue. The Late Late Show – a less formal performance after the main show – runs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, offering a chance to have a less-conventional experience.

best jazz clubs

Tramjazz

When it comes to unique jazz club experiences, it is hard to beat Tramjazz in Rome. Instead of a traditional venue, Tramjazz is based in a vintage cable car that moves through the city (and even makes a stop in front of the Colosseum) during twice-weekly performances. Along with great music, you can also enjoy a fantastic meal from the onboard restaurant, which serves traditional dishes. The experience is equal parts cozy and decadent, making it a must for every jazz enthusiasts bucket list.

Bimhuis

Bimhuis is a modern architectural marvel. The mainly glass and iron building sides along a river in Amsterdam, offering exceptional views. However, the acoustics are also stellar, and the amphitheater-style seating ensures everyone is able to fully enjoy the experience, both from a hearing and visual perspective.

Green Mill Cocktail Lounge

The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in Chicago has been around for over a century and even served as a speakeasy during the 1920s. Live music has been at the core of the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge since it opened in 1907, and many flock to this venue. In order to ensure the performance is always the focus, cell phones are not allowed.

jazz clubs

Spotted Cat

When people think of jazz cities, New Orleans inevitably comes to mind. The Spotted Cat is a favorite among locals, offering a mix of jazz, blues, and Latin music that you won’t find anywhere else. Plus, the atmosphere is very high-energy, and the inexpensive drinks make it a more affordable option on a night out. Just keep in mind that the Spotted Cat doesn’t take reservations, so you may need to arrive early, and they have a strict cash-only policy.

Village Vanguard

Many consider New York City a jazz mecca. But, if you want to have a truly exceptional experience, then don’t settle for just any NYC jazz club. Instead, make a trip to Village Vanguard, a small basement venue brimming with history and an intimate atmosphere. Village Vanguard has been operating for over 80 years and has remained largely unchanged even as the decades ticked by.

Preservation Hall

If you want to experience the history of jazz in New Orleans, Preservation Hall is your ideal venue. Walking in gives you a chance to become steeped in the history of the musical genre, hearing live performances focused on the music of Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, and other classic examples of the New Orleans jazz scene.

best jazz clubs in the world

Blue Note

Tokyo’s Blue Note – part of a New York-based jazz club franchise – is a sleek and sophisticated venue that feels incredibly high-end and luxurious. Performers often include the whos-who of American jazz as well as a mix of local talent, including Toshiko Akiyoshi. When it comes to the updated urban jazz experience, Blue Note is a must-see.

SFJAZZ Center

The SFJAZZ Center was the first free-standing building in the entire United States to be dedicated solely to the performance and teaching of jazz. Over the course of the year, 300 performances happen at this venue, offering something for every kind of jazz aficionado. Plus, SFJAZZ does more than offer up great music; they also have a community outreach program that helps high schoolers learn the value of community involvement.

Stampen Jazz Bar

Located in Stockholm, Stampen Jazz Bar is an incredibly unique venue. From the ceilings dangle everything a quintessential original jazzman may have owned, ranging from trombones to bicycles to sneakers. Plus, you can enjoy specialty ales while listening to some of the greatest European jazz performers, all while being nestled into a crowd of fellow jazz fans.

Ultimately, all of the jazz clubs above are worth visiting, especially if you are a genuine fan of the musical genre. Each one offers something different but is equally meaningful, ensuring you have the best jazz experience possible whenever you decide to stop by.

Can’t Sit and Play? Tips for Musicians Who Are Always on Their Feet

Tips for Musicians Who Are Always on Their Feet

Whether you play an instrument that practically forces you to stand or you simply like the freedom to run around the stage or get the crowd jumping, spending a ton of time on your feet can be painful. As a musician, you aren’t just contending with your body weight; you have an instrument with you too. So, not only are you dealing with fatigue, but you also have to fight with your posture and carrying something weighty. That’s a lot to ask from your body.

Luckily, there are things you can do to make your time playing significantly more comfortable. Here are some tips for musicians who are always standing.

Master Your Posture

Back, hip, and knee pain can all be a result of bad posture. But you can’t just worry about your posture while you play; it has to be on your mind all of the time.

When you stand, you need to engage your glutes and tilt your pelvis slightly forward. Keep your shoulders down and slightly back, and imagine the crown of your head being pulled up slightly by a string headed toward the sky.

Also, don’t be afraid to alter your position while you play. Getting into a lunge, even a slight one, lets you rely on different muscles than standing straight up. Walking as you play can also help, as long as you keep your back and hips in proper alignment.

Breathe the Right Way

If you don’t exhale fully, you could be throwing your pelvis and ribs into an uncomfortable position. You could incidentally be curving your back into a posteriorly-oriented C-shape, straining your lower back and throwing off your balance, putting weird pressure on your hips and knees.

By learning to exhale fully, you promote better alignment. Plus, if you focus on deep breathing that moves your abdomen instead of your shoulders, you release more tension.

Don’t Lock Your Knees

Have you ever seen a video where groomsman passes out during a wedding? That’s because he locked his knees. The hyperextension for long periods harms blood flow. If the blood pools, your brain might not get enough, causing you to lose consciousness and slam to the floor.

Additionally, the hyperextension can be very uncomfortable in its own right. It throws your knees back, tilting your hips and straining your back.

By keeping a slight bend, it’s easier to stay in proper position. Plus, you won’t have to worry about fainting during a performance.

Invest in Your Shoes

Your feet serve as your base. If they don’t get the support and cushion they need, you are going to feel it.

One of the worst options you can choose to flip flops. They offer almost no support and cushioning, can lead to tow scrunching, and can easily slide around, giving you less traction. If you are a musician who is always standing, flip flops are not the way to go.

By investing in high-quality shoes that fit your feet well, you aren’t just eliminating a potential source of pain; you also promote better body alignment. Not have the right level of arch support can cause your knees to tip in or out, which is uncomfortable on its own. Plus, your hips will get misaligned, and that can impact everything up into your back and shoulders.

With the proper footwear, you can give your feet the right level of support and cushioning. This ensures you stay comfortable and can move freely too, allowing your performance to be as active as you’d like.

If you are looking for a great shoe that is comfortable, supportive, and incredibly versatile, consider crossfit shoes. These shoes are designed for a variety of activities and their versatility make them perfect for musicians who are always on their feet. The shoes are flexible, stable on the ground, and comfortable so you feel supported while you are playing.

CrossFit Shoe for Musicians
The right shoe, like a CrossFit sneaker, is critical to keeping you supported and comfortable when on your feet for hours.

While you’re at it; don’t neglect your socks either. Not only do your socks protect your feet from rubbing and chafing, but they also provide cushion. Some are even designed to provide additional support in key areas (like the arch) or to improve circulation. With the right socks and a great pair of shoes, your comfort can increase dramatically.

Stretch, Stretch, Stretch

For musicians, stretching should be seen as essential. Not only does it promote good posture and reduce tension, but it can serve as a counter to your usual positioning, ensuring your body remains balanced.

A few basic yoga poses can be incredibly beneficial. Downward facing dog can help you back, hips, and shoulders and is very simple to perform. You can also add in warrior (hero) poses, the runner’s stretch, or even bound angle pose.

With just a few minutes of stretching a day, you can make a ton of progress quickly, increasing your comfort level, reducing pain, and ensuring you remain limber and balanced.

Practice Self-Care

While practicing self-care doesn’t sound very rock-n-roll, it is important if you want to reduce pain. An Epsom salt soak can reduce inflammation and improve circulation while massage can loosen muscles. Plus, both promote relaxation.

A foot soak only takes a bucket, warm water, and a bit of Epson salt. You can soak your feet while doing something else too, like kicking back with a book or watching television.

While you can certainly opt for a professional massage, using your hands or even a tennis ball can provide you with substantial relief too. If you want to do your own massage, take both hands and use both thumbs. Follow the centerline of your foot and use circular motions, adjusting the pressure based on your comfort level.

The tennis ball method is exceptionally simple too. Just place the ball on the ground and your foot on top of it. Then use pressure to roll the ball across your arch and the ball of your foot for a few minutes. Believe me, it feels great after standing!

All of the tips above can help any musician who spends a lot of time on their feet. Consider giving them all a try. Your knees, hips, and back will thank you.

The Origins of Jazz

Where did jazz originate? Jazz originated in New Orleans in the second half of the 19th century. A port city, New Orleans had people coming in from around the world, socializing, and sharing their music. Music from all over the world could be heard in the streets of New Orleans. New Orleans was also one of the only places in America that permitted slaves to own drums.

West Africa, the birthplace of many slaves, was home to rich musical traditions which continued in the songs and field chants of the America’s slaves. When slavery was abolished and the American Civil War ended (1865), many former slaves found jobs as musicians, exposing them to other musical styles from around the world. Jazz was born into this new world of emancipation and freedom, stimulating a spirit of experimentation and expression which would be key elements to jazz.

Jazz is often thought of as being founded on the musical traditions of West Africa (rhythm, “feel”, blues) and Europe (harmonic chords, variety of instruments). Early jazz also incorporated church hymns, slave songs, field chants, and cuban-style rhythm. However, jazz didn’t get it’s big break until the 1890s when “ragtime”, a precursor to jazz, started to catch the ear of white Americans. The most famous of the artists at the time was Scott Joplin who composed 44 original ragtime pieces before his death in 1917. It was around this time that other artists started to add in improvisation to the sound, a crucial component of what would become modern jazz.

The Jazz age really started in the 1920s when the music became popular across the US and Europe. The “Roaring Twenties” with prohibition, speakeasies, flappers and music drove jazz into the mainstream and made overnight success stories of black musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie. The age of Jazz culminated in the historic 1938 Benny Goodman concert at Carnegie Hall, bringing together musicians from various ethnicities to perform jazz inside this hallowed hall. At this point, the jazz of the 1920s and 30s was already starting to give way to the Big Band era although musicians such as Ellington and Armstrong would continue to develop jazz until their deaths.

Despite the dominance of jazz ending with the Great Depression, the music has continued to evolve with new styles and sub-genres forming as its influence on pop-culture continues to echo through time.

Jazz legend Louis Armstrong once said: “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.”

 

9 Top Jazz Festivals Around the World

Jazz exists in many forms. It can be relaxing, upbeat, slow, fast, erratic, and so many other variations. The best jazz music can transport a listener to a different time and place, wringing every ounce of emotion out of them before bringing them back to the present.

Finding these experiences involves making other, more physical journeys. The best place to find the latest and greatest jazz is at one of the many jazz festivals held annually around the world. If you have an inclination to travel and a love for Jazz at its finest, then check out our list of the top jazz music festivals around the world.

Copenhagen Jazz Festival. Photo: Kristoffer Juel Poulsen (Courtesy: Jazz.dk)

The Copenhagen Jazz Festival

The Copenhagen Jazz Festival is held in July each year in Denmark. This event has been held since 1979, making it one of the most distinguished jazz festivals in Europe and all over the world. The dates are July 6 to July 15 although jazz is so popular in Copenhagen that their Vinterjazz starts in February. By the time July’s grand festival comes around, a series of about 300 jazz concerts, featuring jazz for kids and poetry jazz, would have been played in different locations through the country.

The Clearwater Jazz Holiday

The Clearwater Jazz Holiday has also been held since 1979 in Clearwater, Florida. This is a world-class four-day and four-night event held every October that is usually enjoyed by over thirty-five thousand visitors. This event is held at the Coachman Park in Clearwater and features a combination of great artists and a wide variety of jazz styles that are sure to inspire and delight jazz fans from all over the world. Because of the beautiful Florida beaches, the warm Florida sun, and amazing jazz, this is one of the top jazz festivals to attend.

RAN @ Java Jazz Festival 2008

The Java Jazz Festival

The Java Jazz Festival has been held for about 10 years now in Jakarta, Indonesia. This event takes place every March and it is considered the biggest jazz festival in the Southern Hemisphere. The Java Jazz Festivals features popular Indonesian jazz artist like Yura Yunita and international jazz artists like Arturo Sandoval and Stevie Wonder. Those three names alone, are worth traveling from anywhere to see.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival is held annually, every March, in South Africa. This event has been held for nineteen years and it is now considered Africa’s largest jazz gathering. The Cape Town International Jazz Festival is definitely among the top five in the world. For jazz fans in Africa and the rest of the world, this is a must visit festival. It features an awe-inspiring line up that features top jazz artists from around the globe plus up-and-coming jazz artists that are making and leaving their mark in the industry and the history of jazz.

Misses Satchmo Beau KOO Swing

The Montreal International Jazz Festival

The Montreal International Jazz Festival is held June to July every year in Quebec, Canada. This event is the number one jazz festival in the world and is a must for jazz fans of all types. It has been going since the early 1980’s. It has broken world records for attendance, entertaining more than two million people in 2004. Seems like this festival is where the best artists and the best fans gather to share in their love of jazz. This long-lasting festival features upwards of three thousand artists from thirty plus countries. You are sure to find your favorite jazz artists at The Montreal International Jazz Festival.

The Montreux Jazz Festival

The Montreux Jazz Festival takes place in Switzerland every July. This jazz festival is ranked at number two in the world, following Canada’s Montreal International Jazz Festival, with its attendance numbered between two hundred and three hundred thousand people. This grand event was founded in 1967 and now a day it is among the most popular jazz events in Europe drawing jazz artists and fans from all over the world.

The Tobago Jazz Experience

If you are looking to travel, experience culture, and experience jazz, the Tobago Jazz Experience is the place to go. This culture rich jazz extravaganza is held in April each year and celebrates Trinidad and Tobago’s indigenous jazz roots featuring artists like Wyclef Jean and Grace Jones. Artists like Lauryn Hill and David Rudder have both made appearances at this festival.

Bonus: Other Caribbean jazz festivals include the St. Lucia Jazz and Art Festival which takes place in May, in case you wish to continue traveling and enjoying other Caribbean Islands.

XJAZZ Berlin (Photo: XJAZZ / Ulla C. Binder)

The XJAZZ Berlin Festival

The XJAZZ Berlin Festival is a newer event taking place since May of 2014. XJAZZ  gives jazz fans a reason to go to Germany and experience innovative local jazz artists who are mixing electronic vibes with classic jazz styles. This creates a unique, new type of jazz that can only be found at The XJAZZ Berlin Festival, so for the younger generation jazz fans, and for those who enjoy the evolution of jazz, head to Berlin, Germany in May.

The Eltham Jazz, Food, and Wine Festival

The Eltham Jazz Festival is held in Australia every February. This festival features music and wine which are great companions to jazz. Just like The XJAZZ Berlin Festival, the Eltham Jazz, Food, and Wine Festival features mostly local artists. The Eltham Jazz, Food, and Wine Festival’s biggest perk is that it is a free, child-friendly event, so this jazz festival could take your Australian vacation to the next level.

Whatever festival you attend, you’ll be sure to hear something new. Jazz is constantly evolving, blending the old with the new and evolving with innovations like we find at XJAZZ. Although you can listen to jazz at home, the best jazz is played live and on stages around the world.

Now it’s your turn. What is your favorite jazz festival and why?