See international jazz musicians up close and discover young local artists breathing fresh life into the genre. This is your rundown of the best jazz clubs in London, where all the cool cats hang out.
The American Jazz craze first came to London after the First World War when visiting American groups brought an exciting fresh sound, bringing British and American artists together. In the 1950s and 60s, jazz became popular, and clubs popped up across London, showcasing international stars and supporting local artists.
This legacy continues today in the thriving London jazz scene. It has a unique sound, drawing on influences from bossa nova and swing to hip hop and calypso. So grab a seat, sip a cocktail and get those toes tapping as we give you the roundup of the best jazz bars London has.
Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, London Soho
Soho has long been a haven for jazz lovers, and since opening in 1959, Ronnie Scott’s has been at the forefront of London’s vibrant and ever-evolving jazz scene. Legends Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Count Basie all brought their unique sound to this stage, and even Lady Gaga has given an impromptu performance. With two or more live shows every night, you can dine, drink and soak up the sounds of jazz from world-class musicians at truly one of the best jazz clubs in London. For an informal jazz session, join the Late Late Show and dance until the early hours as musicians keep the tunes going.
Is there a dress code at Ronnie Scott’s?
The dress code is smart casual, with no flip-flops allowed. Overall, the club operates a relaxed clothing policy, but it’s a place that appreciates those who dress for the occasion.
This treasured Chelsea jazz den has been playing the best of British Jazz for over 45 years. The 606 Club is a cool basement spot with live shows seven nights a week, and there’s little separation between the musicians and the audience. You enter through an unassuming doorway and descend a staircase that gives nothing away of what’s in store, which is all part of its charm. Jamie Cullum is a huge fan, calling it “one of the best music venues in the world” For non-members, drinks are served with food, and there’s a menu of delicious bites, cooked to order. Booking is essential for this popular jazz bar in London.
From Broadway belters to sultry crooners, Crazy Coqs is a beautifully restored Art Déco cabaret club famous for its live jazz. London cabaret venues don’t get more stylish than this. Take a seat and enjoy cocktails at your table while London’s finest jazz performers put on a show to remember. This glamorous cabaret club shines a spotlight on international Broadway stars, hosts memorable debuts and puts on iconic residences, such as Miss Hope Springs and The Jay Rayner Quartet. So, enjoy a jazz evening filled with 1930s glitz in the heart of Central London.
Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho
This famous pizza company has been running a jazz club in this Soho basement since 1976. Started by the company’s founder, Peter Boizot, this low-light, legendary venue has hosted thousands of jazz artists, from John Dankworth to Amy Winehouse. It’s also where Gregory Porter played his first UK gig. Today you can still watch artists perform seven nights a week – at one of Europe’s top mainstream jazz venues. So go hungry for pizza and jazz and leave sated with both.
Get up close and personal with your favourite jazz act at Nell’s Jazz and Blues in West Kensington. This is one of the best jazz bars in London for upcoming artists. While this jazz haunt is less glamorous than some on the list, there’s a rough vintage appeal that audiences and performers, including Van Morrison, love. With limited seating, most of the audience is standing, dancing and toe-tapping along at this intimate gem of a venue that feels more like a living room than a club. If things get a little crowded, you can escape to the rooftop terrace between shows. Get there early if you want a seat, but wherever you sit or stand, you get a fantastic view.
Jazz clubs in London are popping up all over the city, showcasing local talent and international stars. Combine a jazz evening with a stay at The Clermont, Victoria or The Clermont, Charing Cross for timeless elegance in the heart of London.