The 10 best jazz clubs in London

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It might not have the tradition of Paris or New Orleans, but London’s jazz scene is increasingly vibrant. From hallowed institutions such as Ronnie Scott’s and the 606 Club to a club night that operates out of a Camberwell church’s crypt, there’s plenty to soak in if you know where to look. We’ve done the hard work to bring you the inside track on our favourite jazz clubs in London: whether you want to dip your toes into these cool waters for the first time, or simply branch out from the Soho set – there’s something for everyone.

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1. Nightjar

You know the scene: an impossibly attractive couple trade witticisms in-between Manhattans while a coquettish singer coos away in the background. That’s the Nightjar’s vibe in a nutshell. Only unlike in most movies, no one-liner will save your blushes should you have forgotten to have booked a table in advance. Especially if you want a decent view of the classy, crowd-pleasing performers, who take to the stage from 9.30pm onwards. One way or another, you’ll leave Shoreditch swooning.

Address: Nightjar, 129 City Road, Hoxton, London EC1V 1JB


Telephone: +44 20 7253 4101


Website: barnightjar.com

  • The 10 best jazz clubs in London

    2. Ronnie Scott’s

    Having hosted almost every heavyweight of the modern age from Nina Simone to Curtis Mayfield, Ronnie Scott’s sits alongside the Tate Modern, Globe and Royal Albert Hall as one of London’s key cultural institutions. Naturally, this makes it an incredibly popular proposition for both lifelong jazz fans and those with a couple of days in town and a passing interest in the genre. Our tip for the quintessential Ronnie Scott’s experience? End your night on a high at one of its late late shows which run from 11pm to 3am. Or kick-start it all over again. We won’t judge.

    Address: Ronnie Scott’s, 47 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4HT


    Telephone: +44 20 7439 0747


    Website: ronniescotts.co.uk

    3. Oliver’s

    Greenwich is the Bermuda Triangle of London, in that many of its secrets are a mystery to all but its residents. Still, we can’t blame anyone who’d want to keep a treat like Oliver’s all to themselves. Sat right on the corner of Greenwich Park, this basement jazz club always rewards a hop across town on the DLR. Especially if you make the trip on a Sunday for one of this venue’s hallowed jam sessions. Although there’s no food served here, the cover price for a table is top value and you can bring in your own eats with no questions asked.

    Address: Oliver’s, 9 Nevada Street, East Greenwich, London SE10 9JL


    Telephone: +44 20 8858 3693


    Website: oliversjazzbar.com

  • The 10 best jazz clubs in London

    4. Vortex

    The ying to Ronnie Scott’s yang, Vortex is the epicentre of London’s experimental scene. Go with an open mind and you’ll leave with your senses bedazzled. Anyone looking to step away from another note-perfect rendition of ‘All of me’ is welcome, but you’ll probably want to check the joyfully electric programme first for a bit of guidance. Considering past acts to play here include the Mercury Prize-nominated Portico Quartet and Polar Bear, taking a chance on something new isn’t such a bad idea.

    Address: Vortex, 11 Gillett Square, Dalston, London N16 8AZ


    Telephone: +44 20 7254 4097


    Website: vortexjazz.co.uk

  • The 10 best jazz clubs in London

    5. The Bull’s Head

    The Bull’s Head is a unique proposition: a fully fledged pub with a separate, ticketed venue round its backside. It’s the only place in this part of town where you can while away your Sunday afternoon in the company of a roast dinner and saxophone-lead quartet. With six decades’ worth of prestige to its name, the likes of Coleman Hawkins, Tubby Hayes and Blossom Dearie have all made their way down to this suburban hideaway that’s just a few minutes’ walk from Barnes Bridge station.

    Address: The Bull’s Head, 373 Lonsdale Road, Barnes, London SW13 9PY


    Telephone: +44 20 8876 5241


    Website: thebullsheadbarnes.com

  • The 10 best jazz clubs in London

    6. Pizza Express Jazz Club

    Yes, one of London’s most revered jazz venues will also serve you a Sloppy Giuseppe. It’s an odd coupling, but one that’s thrived in the heart of Soho since 1969 – mainly due to the sheer quality of talent that has passed through its doors, with Bud Freeman, Al Haig, Norah Jones and a litany of legends having taken to the stage over the past six decades. We’re guessing they came to join in that illustrious heritage and not for the dough balls.

    Address: Pizza Express Jazz Club, 10 Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 3RW


    Telephone: +44 20 7439 4962


    Website: pizzaexpresslive.com

  • The 10 best jazz clubs in London

    7. Jazzlive at the Crypt

    Is there anything more ‘jazz’ than a venue that only opens for six hours a week on a Friday? Yes. When that very same venue is a church crypt. It’s a holy union for the ages – specifically since 1995, when Jazzlive at the Crypt first took up residency at St. Giles Church in Camberwell. If this all screams too much of gimmickry, worry not. Everything here has been curated with immense passion, from the well-regarded talent to the surprisingly reasonable drinks prices. The fearsome gothic architecture just elevates this club night to ‘unmissable’ status.

    Address: Jazzlive at the Crypt, St. Giles Church, Camberwell Church Street, Camberwell, London SE5 8JB


    Telephone: +44 7986 239182


    Website: jazzlive.co.uk

  • The 10 best jazz clubs in London

    8. 606 Club

    Tucked away behind an unmarked door in a forgotten corner of Chelsea, 606 Club represents the centrepiece of West London’s jazz scene. A 42-year-old institution with a nightly programme that varies from brassy standard singers to Brazilian samba, it’s the kind of place where you can turn up on a whim without hesitation. Given this venue’s heritage you may even spot a bright young thing in the making. Jamie Cullum and Polly Gibbons both performed here in their formative years.

    Address: 606 Club, 90 Lots Road, Chelsea, London SW10 0QD


    Telephone: +44 20 7352 5953


    Website: 606club.co.uk

  • The 10 best jazz clubs in London

    9. Toulouse Lautrec

    London isn’t short of French brasseries that double as jazz clubs. Both The Crazy Coqs at the grandiose Brasserie Zedel and Battersea’s Le QuecumBar fit this billing with aplomb, but Toulouse Lautrec is our favourite. Why? The cassoulet is sensational, the cocktails are appropriately strong and the acoustics of the third-floor venue are spot on. Even when you’re slouched in a corner with your upteenth whisky sour in hand. Better still, its Kennington location is just off the beaten track.

    Address: Toulouse Lautrec, 140 Newington Butts, Kennington, London SE11 4RN


    Telephone: +44 20 7582 6800


    Website: toulouselautrec.co.uk

  • The 10 best jazz clubs in London

    10. Green Note

    We’ve always got time for Camden’s stalwart Jazz Cafe, but if we’re heading north then it’s usually to this gem of a venue. Despite being just five minutes’ walk from Camden Town tube station, Green Note still feels like a hidden treasure. Especially if you get there early enough to sneak a seat in its basement piano bar alongside 40 or so other wised-up souls. Chances are you’ll also need to book in advance to enjoy this rarefied intimacy. Especially if you’re looking to impress a date who doesn’t want to be squeezed between the stairs, bar and toilet.

    Address: Green Note, 106 Parkway, Camden, London NW1 7AN


    Telephone: +44 20 7485 9899


    Website: greennote.co.uk

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