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The best jazz clubs in Sydney

Sydney is exploding in polyrhythm, and these are the best places to hear it


Best for… an intimate setting Make like a soul swinger of the Deep South at this inner-city culture cave. In 2010, 505 moved out of its ‘underground’ digs to establish itself, legitimately, on the Sydney streets. Now tucked away on Cleveland Street is a candlelit room that hosts live jazz up to seven nights a week. The artists that run 505 still work hard at promoting quality sound while keeping it raw and local. There’s pub grub, good beer, cheap bottles of wine and a very reasonable cover charge to boot.

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Surry Hills

The Basement

Best for... funk on the d-floor Sydney's most well-known jazz club is still a damn reliable source of quality aural pleasure and good times. The friendly staff merely sweeten the deal. Since 1973, the likes of Prince and Stevie Wonder have stepped on down to check it out, and so can you, every night of the week.

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Circular Quay

Camelot Lounge

Best for... keeping it real, low-key and local Up the stairs in to this secret lair – between walls dominated by camel paraphernalia – this artist-curated space houses a main music stage marked by a '30s German grand piano. Expect rabbits popping out of hats to the sounds of big band, gypsy jazz and gangster jazz with funk, gospel and reggae worked in too.

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Foundry 616

Best for... late nights and new discoveries The man behind this new-ish venue on Harris Street, Ultimo, is Peter Rechniewski, the former artistic director of SIMA. The club programs up-and-coming acts – often genre-blenders (jazz hip-hop, anyone?) – along with big internationals. Bonus: Foundry616 opens until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.

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The Sound Lounge

Best for... a peak at the grandmasters Book in for a regular insurgence of contemporary jazz and improvisation and see local acts glare starry-eyed at the international legends sharing their stage. The Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA) mans this limb of the Seymour Centre and are passionate about the life of the Sydney jazz scene. Although they can't resist a dalliance with the likes of Dewedy Redman and James Carter.

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The Vanguard

Best for... Newtown charm with big names Nestled in the artistic hub of Newtown with its quirky, 1920s charm and cosy appeal, this popular New Orleans-inspired live music venue/restaurant is renowned for bringing top-notch local and international blues and jazz music to the stage.

By Natasha Gammell 

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Want more live music venues?

The Metro Theatre

This baby's got all bases covered. Good sound? Check. Decent amenities? Check. A bar from which you can see the stage? Check. Another bar? Check. Since the early '90s, the Metro has showcased a splashing of all-ages gigs while presenting a myriad of musical genres across every night of the week. Bravo!

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