picture of people playing jazz
Kim Densham

The best jazz bars and clubs in Melbourne

Here's where to go in Melbourne when you're craving all that jazz

Rebecca RussoAdena Maier
Contributor: Adena Maier
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The roaring '20s are here again, and naturally, that means jazz is due for a comeback. Here in Melbourne, jazz never really went out of style, with a population of clubs dedicated to the city's hepcats. Whether you're after a full dinner show or just somewhere you can sit back and relax with a whisky and some Coltrane, these are the top places to listen to jazz music in Melbourne.

Then take the music home with you at one of Melbourne's best record stores. Or drop into one of the city's slickest wine bars for a post-gig drink.

Want more live music? Check out the best gigs happening in Melbourne this month.

Top jazz bars in Melbourne

1. The Jazzlab

This swinging live music venue is open every damn evening because jazz never has a night off. The Brunswick club cares deeply about furthering jazz and jazz musicians, and plays host to the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, the Women’s International Jazz Festival and the Melbourne Jazz Cooperative. The Jazzlab is based around the design of the late, great Bennett’s Lane Jazz Club and plays everything from cutting-edge experimental jazz to the classics of the roaring '20s. For more information visit the website.

  • Music
  • Melbourne
Bird's Basement
Bird's Basement

Melbourne plays host to New York City's famed Birdland sister club, Bird's Basement – a gutsy 200 seater that runs in line with the Birdland model with live shows several times a week. It shares international and local jazz talent with its dead-cool older sibling (Ravi Coltrane, John Scofield and ‘80s teen star Molly Ringwald have all graced the stage) but also shines a light on local musicians who’ve nailed the old-school aesthetic. You can even get dinner served to you. 

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  • Fitzroy
  • price 1 of 4

On Wednesday nights head over to this under-the-radar Brunswick Street gem that serves up cocktails, craft brews and a free jazz show to boot. Settle in beside the cosy indoor stage where jazz hepcats the Rookies do their thing. As the Rooks Return’s house jazz band, the Rookies have mastered a set list of ballads and uptempo bebop numbers, which are often accented by special guest performers. The friendly and unpretentious atmosphere is great for those dipping their toes in the jazz pool. 

  • Music
  • Melbourne
The Paris Cat Jazz Club
The Paris Cat Jazz Club

Located down one of Melbourne's many CBD laneways, the Paris Cat is cool and cosy, emanating a '20s and '30s Parisian-chic feel. Featuring two band rooms with a lounge bar in the middle, the Paris Cat has played host to some seriously good international and local performers since its doors opened in 2006. Jazz greats cover the velvety walls, with an intimate atmosphere setting the tone for easy music listening. The Paris Cat is the sort of place where a fur stole-toting heiress smoking a cigarillo would not look out of place. 

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5. The Count's

The Count's is a live music venue with a bar and bistro, and is one of the five venues that make up Monash University Performing Arts Centre (MPAC). Every Wednesday night the 150-cap club hosts a smorgasbord of jazz and contemporary music. For full details about what events they have coming up, visit the website here.

  • Music
  • Fitzroy
Uptown Jazz Café
Uptown Jazz Café

Walk up the unassuming stairs under the neon 'Uptown Jazz Cafe' sign and you'll find this trendy little jazz bar that boasts live music most nights of the week. These guys take their craft pretty seriously – you can tell by the giant shrine to Charlie Parker that’s on the wall. Uptown reveres the 'Melbourne sound', a rough-around-the-edges vibe with improvisers often making their mark on stage. Park yourself beside the window looking down on Brunswick Street and order from the Japanese menu (yep, there's sake on there too).

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  • Film
  • Hawthorn

Glenferrie Road's classy-cool cinema does more than screen films. Tiptoe down a narrow staircase and you'll find the Lido Jazz Room, a cosy 40-seater venue that pays homage to Manhattan jazz bars of the '80s. The Jazz Room features live musicians every Saturday, with the gig list curated by Sonny Rehe, the man behind the Uptown Jazz Café in Fitzroy.

  • Northcote
303
303

The colourful, shabby 303 is usually a hub of activity, so it’s no surprise you’ll find some of the city’s best live music here. Since its inception, 303 has supported quality, no-frills music, with a smattering of jazz musicians hitting their band room over the years. 303 isn't defined as a jazz club per se, but it offers jazz in bite-sized and accessible bouts, perfect for the casual jazz aficionado. Only a few doors down from the Northcote Social Club, 303 usually has bands playing free from noon until late.

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