The Handbook
The Handbook

Jazz is one of those subjects like wine, we like it, we feel sophisticated listening to it but we also like to pretend that we are far more knowledgeable about it than we really are – can you your Bebop from your Cubop? Can you?  What we do know though is that London is definitely not short of jazz bars where you can get your musical fix and here are 5 of our favourites. 

Ain't Nothing But

Up close and personal with no frills.

Said to be the ‘Best blues bar this side of the Atlantic’ this intimate, stripped back bar allows you to be so close to the musicians you can almost touch them (although that would be a bit weird). Hosting local and American acts 7 nights a week, there is no need to arrange a special date to go. Just rock up anytime you fancy, grab a beer and listen to those rhythm ‘n’ blues.

Where: 20 Kingly St, London W1B 5PZ

The Jazz Cafe

London's most iconic jazz club restaurant.

Found in Camden, this is the place to go to get a sneak preview of the biggest names in jazz and soul before they become famous. This year the club is celebrating 25 years of successfully playing host to the likes of Lana Del Ray, Solomon Burke, Faithless and Bobby Womack. With a capacity of over 400 people you can either slum it down by the stage or for a more civilized evening eat in the balcony restaurant, overlooking the amazing atmosphere.

Where: 5 Parkway, London NW1 7PG

606 Club

Like a 1920's speakeasy with British based musicians.

Hidden away in West Brompton, this underground basement has live performances every night, fusing together serious jazz types and party go-ers that have probably just managed to stumble upon it. However if your names not on the list your not getting in alright? If you’re lucky enough to get through the ritual of buzzers and locked doors and finally get to where the party’s at you will be sure to get lost in the music well into the early hours.

Where: 90 Lots Rd, London SW10 0QD

Vortex Jazz Club

Small and innovative with volunteers leading the way.

They say the best things come in small packages, well lets us introduce you to the small but mighty Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston. This volunteer-led club is rivalling the big jazz clubs with putting on an incredible 400 performances in a year. In fact they’re doing so well that Downbeat which is pretty much the jazz bible included them in their list of top jazz bars in the world – impressive!

Where: 11 Gillett St, London N16 8AZ

Ronnie Scott's

The most talked about, with the most sophisticated musicians, cocktails and food.

This guide wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t finish off with the unforgettable Ronnie Scott’s…come on you knew it would be on here. Having opened in 1959, you’ve danced there, your parents danced there, heck your grandparents probably went on a date there. It’s seen all the great jazz musicians take to the stage from when it started out as a club for local musicians to jam in, to the iconic venue it is now.

Where: 47 Frith St, London W1D 4HT