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Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta
Photograph: Courtesy The Royal Sonesta

Where to hear jazz music in New Orleans

Ready to take on the city of jazz? From late-night bars to intimate hidden gems, here's the best spots for it.

Written by
Gerrish Lopez
Sally Tunmer

It’s no secret that New Orleans is the city for jazz. This is the birthplace of the jazz genre itself, and you can feel it on every street you walk down. Visitors might be here for the annual Jazz Fest, for the French Quarter Festival or for Mardi Gras, but whatever time of year you’re in New Orleans, there’s going to be something musical happening, guaranteed. 

So whether you’re here to discover hidden live jazz spots in the city, go wild at a jazz brunch or get tickets for a full-blown concert, you’ll find what you’re looking for, and then some. Here, we’ve ranked all the best places to hear jazz music in New Orleans, from intimate sessions to swinging dance spots to cozy clubs and more. Here are the best places to experience New Orleans music right now. 

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Jazz clubs and bars in New Orleans

Preservation Hall is an iconic jazz bar in New Orleans which is steeped in history. Founded in 1961, it’s known for its intimate live jazz shows in the heart of the French Quarter throughout New Orleans and beyond (it’s been home to jazz legends George Lewis, The Humphrey Brothers and lots more over the years). Now, you can catch live music there every night of the week, all year round, from artists from Preservation’s collective, including the world-renowned Preservation Hall Jazz Band. 

Things get funky at the Spotted Cat. The venue itself is low key-looking, covered in local art and design by folk artist Dr. Bob. But come evening, this music venue comes alive, and you’ll find yourself being swung arm in arm, foot tapping or singing along. Check out the Spotted Cat’s calendar for its upcoming events – frequent performers include Miss Sophie Lee, Washboard Chaz Blues Trio and Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns. 


Snug Harbor on Frenchmen is a classic jazz lounge. The historic building offers something for everyone: three separate rooms are dedicated to drinking, dining and live music respectively. Members of New Orleans music royalty, like Charmaine Neville, Stanton Moore and James Singleton are Snug Harbor mainstays. Whether in the mood for low-key vibes or a swinging night out, this intimate, dimly lit space will deliver. 


Nestled in between the strip clubs, neon signs and bars serving Hand Grenades and Hurricanes on Bourbon Street is the oldest operating jazz club in New Orleans. Fritzel’s European Jazz Club is the place to hear traditional jazz and French gypsy jazz music with a classic cocktail in hand every night of the week. 

Maple Leaf in the Riverbend area of Uptown always feels like a really fun house party. It’s a local favorite for seeing New Orleans legends and newcomers every night of the week. Its humble digs, back patio and social atmosphere are always prime for a good time. World-class jazz and jazz-influenced musicians like John Cleary, George Porter, Jr. and Johnny Vidacovich play the venue regularly.


Dos Jefes is an unassuming oasis tucked away on Tchoupitoulas Street in Uptown, boasting laid-back vibes alongside live jazz music. It’s where the New Orleans jazz tradition thrives in a low-key, relaxed setting perfect for hanging out with old and new friends inside or on the tropical patio. New Orleans jazz professionals John Fohl, Rick trolsen and Joe Krown are Dos Jefes staples.

Right inside the entrance of the Pontchartrain Hotel is the cozy, wood-paneled Bayou Bar. Its storied past includes frequent visits by Frank Sinatra and Truman Capote, and it’s the spot where the New Orleans Saints franchise was christened in 1966. But the intimate vibe is perfect for live music — mostly jazz trios and solo artists — on tap Wednesdays through Saturdays.


Three Muses, as the name suggests, checks all the New Orleans boxes: music, food and drinks. You’ll find the highest quality versions of all three at this cozy club on Frenchmen Street. Listen to jazz and its variations while enjoying an expertly mixed drink and delicious small plates. Don’t miss the La Soldadera cocktail, the chili verde pulled pork and Ms. Moon’s Bulgogi rice bowl.

Not only does the New Orleans Jazz Museum celebrate the history of jazz and its influences on the city through engaging, interactive exhibits, it hosts live music in the courtyard, on the balcony and virtually. One of the best series the museum hosts is Prime Examples of Excellence in Music, curated by composer, jazz pianist and educator Jesse McBride. The series pays tribute to the legacy of the Prime Example Jazz Club (closed in 2020) and features musical arrangements by McBride performed by up-and-coming contemporary jazz musicians and veteran musicians.


Although Tipitina’s isn’t primarily known for jazz, any music-related New Orleans list would be remiss to exclude this institution. The venue was named after a song by Professor Longhair, who spent his later years playing here and whose portrait is displayed above the stage. Tipitina’s is a favorite of both local and touring bands playing funk, brass, rock, hip hop and, of course, jazz. 


One of several Frenchmen Street clubs, d.b.a. is among the top places to hear many different types of New Orleans music, including jazz. Its sleek, dark wooden interior generates cool vibes and those who appreciate craft beer and cocktails will love the extensive and well-curated drink selection. Hear the likes of Treme Brass Band, Smoking Time Jazz Club and the Palmetto Bug Stompers, among other genres.


Besides being one of the top wine bars in the country, Bacchanal down in the Bywater neighborhood offers a dreamy setting to hear local jazz bands. After picking out a bottle of wine from the front shop, head out to the spacious patio, cozy up by a canopy of trees and order from the excellent food menu. To complete the experience, Baccchanal hosts a variety of established and up-and-coming musicians, part of the next wave of New Orleans talent.


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