Where to hear jazz in Sydney
Artist-run Venue 505 has been operating from its Cleveland Street base since 2011. Cameron Undy and Kerri Glasscock are passionately committed to providing a home for the Sydney arts community. The vibe is relaxed and down-home, with live music six nights a week and free entry most evenings. You can catch some of the best local and international artists in this room. Snacks and boozy are kept simple; pizza, pasta and a great whisky and cocktail selection and reasonable prices.
Foundry 616 is an intimate room near Central. Think traditional jazz venue/restaurant that has a bar area if you just want to watch the band and have a drink. Since September 2013 the venue has been presenting Australian and international artists. The venue also supports the Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival, run by Peter Rechniewski, former artistic director and co-founder of the Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA).
This venue is part of the Seymour Centre and turns into a jazz room when Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA) runs its winter and summer series here. The room itself has a bit of a function room vibe, however that doesn’t matter when the room is full of eager listeners. SIMA, which has been in operation for over 30 years, delivers the goods in terms of quality music and musicians playing contemporary jazz.
Featuring live music seven nights a week and across two floors, this Marrickville venue hosts all genres of music and whilst it’s not always jazz, there’s regulars such as Sonic Mayhem Orchestra and renowned virtuoso of the electric bass, Steve Hunter. The rooms have a plush, quirky feel to them, the vibe is welcoming and cosy and there’s an eclectic grown-up vibe. Expect to pay a modest cover charge.
There was a well kept jazz secret called Colbourne Avenue in Glebe – a labour of love, where everyone volunteered their time so that the musicians could keep the door money. Sadly it closed, but due to popular audience demand the vibe lives on in the Annandale Creative Arts Centre. It’s BYO, and you’ll see well known, interstate, international and emerging musos play – but it very much depends on when you drop by. A place for serious listeners, Johnston Street Jazz is where you want to be on a Thursday night.
Jazz isn’t always on the menu, but it's worth keeping an eye on this venue with its funky décor and friendly vibe. Music is more along the world music/jazz lines. These days most of the action takes place in the Django Bar.
Upcoming jazz events in Sydney
Even if you’ve never heard of Postmodern Jukebox before today, you’re sure to have a delightful time at their theatrical live show. The American group is made up of a rotating cast of singers and big band musicians who cover an enormous playlist of pop hits. The collective was founded by arranger and pianist Scott Bradlee in 2009, and has gained a dedicated following, with more than four million YouTube subscribers who are glued to their computers each time the group releases a new jazzed-up version of a beloved song. They add all the razzle dazzle visuals you’d expect from their predominantly early 20th century swing and jazz repertoire, from flapper dresses to suspenders and red curtained glamour. Their Sydney Opera House show will be one of the final stops on a huge national tour that’ll take the group to regional Australian towns and major cities this spring. You’ll want to perfect your Charleston and waltz, as it’s called the Welcome to the Twenties 2.0 tour, and preparing us for the 2020 golden age (here’s hoping). Expect extravagant covers of powerhouse numbers from Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Gotye, plus one-hit-wonders we love to hate (and know all the words to) like ‘Call Me Maybe’ and ‘Stacy’s Mom’ The tour will see Adam Kubota slapping the bass, Tom Jorgenson on drums, Jeremy Viner leading woodwinds, PJ Floyd playing trombone and Reggie Berg on piano. Casey Abrams, Aubrey Logan, Hannah Gill and newcomer Dave Simmons Jr will be tapping in and out and collaborating
Los Angeles’ tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington is returning to Sydney Opera House to perform his second album Heaven and Earth for the first time in Australia. The modern jazz visionary entered the charts in 2015 and since then he’s worked with Kendrick Lamar (on ‘Lust’ and ‘Mortal Man’), Florence and the Machine (‘Big God’), Run the Jewels, Snoop Dogg and Flying Lotus. In the two-and-a-half-hour double album, Washington explores current global politics with his funk and gospel choir-soundtracked hope for the future. With his eight-piece band, the jazz conceptualist will perform songs like ‘Street Fighter Mas’ and ‘Fists of Fury’ at the Concert Hall in an in-the-round stage set up. Don’t wait till October to get your tickets – his last performance sold out entirely. Tickets go on sale to the general public at 9am, Thursday July 18.