Jazz in London is constantly evolving, but retains its old-school roots. So whether you're a longtime jazz lover or a total newbie, you'll find your spot at one of London's best jazz clubs to soak up some serious vibes. Truly, there's nowhere quite like the iconic Ronnie Scott's in Soho, but the capital boasts a selection of characterful jazz venues dotted all over the city. Simply pick one with a vibe you like the sound of, and get ready to get your groove on.
The best jazz venues in London
Opened in 1959, this legendary Soho institution made its name as the first club to host American jazz musicians in the UK.
Catering to a diverse crowd of serious jazz types in search of late-night sounds, this club has been part of London's musical landscape since 1976.
There are few better pairings than pizza and jazz. The 120-capacity basement is one of Europe's best modern mainstream jazz venues.
This Dalston restaurant-bar has a strong Japanese theme running through it, serving dishes inspired by the country’s izakayas – small, casual pubs serving cooked snacks. There’s also regular live music (mostly jazz) and jazz-centric DJ sets played through a top-notch soundsystem. It's probably not the place for old-school jazz purists, but Brilliant Corners is definitely a cool spot for beats and eats.
The Vortex has developed a strong profile on London's improv jazz scene and is now well known for its consistently exciting programming. Mopomoso is the improv club night to catch here. A monthly, it was founded in 1991 by guitarist John Russell and pianist, trumpeter and composer Chris Burn. Its aim was to 'promote improvised music and, where applicable, its relationship to other forms of contemporary music-making, with practitioners coming from backgrounds in jazz, rock, folk, classical, electronic, world and computer-generated music'. Expect instrumentation to range from the traditional to the newly invented, and there are occasional collaborations with artists working in poetry/spoken-word, dance, film and performance art, too.
This cute cocktail bar on Stoke Newington Road hosts live jazz most nights of the week, including Saturdays, when bassist Theo Malka-Wishart hosts a regular showcase called Piano Trio Saturdays.
Tucked away in a quiet part of Mile End Park, The Palm Tree is both a treasured boozer and a unique music venue. On weekend evenings, proudly old-school publicans Val and Alf Barrett invite a tight-knit troupe of jazz musicians to perform Great American Songbook favourites for loyal punters and curious passers-by. Because The Palm Tree occupies a fantastic standalone spot right by the Regent’s Canal, there are no uptight neighbours to whinge about noise.
In 2015 the Jazz Cafe celebrated 25 years in business, having brought some of the most respected names in the jazz and soul world – D’Angelo, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Roy Ayers, Bobby Womack – to Camden Town. Then, in early 2016, the venue (once a branch of Barclays bank) was bought by The Columbo Group, proprietors of XOYO, Phonox, the Old Queen’s Head and more great London venues. Now it’s reopened with a new look, a technical upgrade and a revamped food and drink menu, plus a ‘reinvigorated bookings approach’: more new and rising acts, but still with a focus on jazz, funk, soul, R&B and electronic music. With a capacity of 440 it’s an intimate gig space, and the two-level layout offers you a choice: get sweaty in the downstairs standing area, or book an upstairs table for a bit of luxury and a guaranteed good view.
This swanky gentleman's club-style venue offers live jazz, blues and soul music seven nights a week. Look out, too, for intimate gigs from some pretty big names.
This slinky underground jazz club is run by its own brilliant house band. Their expertly curated nights manage to fuse a love for jazz with the bohemian atmosphere of 1930s Kansas City.