The capital is replete with great jazz venues, so how do you decide which ones to pick? There’s no one better to mark your card than journalist and author Richard Williams, who has written about music of every genre for more than 50 years. Here are his magnificent seven London places specialising in jazz, in his own words. I wouldn’t disagree with any of them.
RONNIE SCOTT’S, SOHO
‘The country’s most famous jazz club, established in 1959 and still the most likely place to see famous American modern jazz musicians at close quarters.”
Ronnie Scott’s is at 47 Frith St, London W1D 4HT. Open seven days a week
THE BULL’S HEAD, BARNES
“A civilised and welcoming version of the sort of pub backroom in which British jazz of all kinds has survived and sometimes thrived for decades.”
The Bull’s Head is at 373 Lonsdale Rd, London SW13 9PY. Open every night
THE JAZZ CAFÉ, CAMDEN
“A haven for fans of jazz featuring heavy soul and funk influences.”
The Jazz Café is at 5 Parkway, London NW1 7PG. Open every night.
606 CLUB CHELSEA
“A warm environment for various kinds of instrumental and vocal modern jazz, often featuring new lineups led by some of the best young and youngish British players.”
The 606 is at 90 Lots Rd, London SW10 0QD. Open every night.
PIZZA EXPRESS, SOHO
“Long-established basement room that preserves the passion for jazz of the pizza chain’s founder, the late Peter Boizot.”
Pizza Express Jazz Club is at 10 Dean St, London W1D 3RW. Open every night.
THE VORTEX, DALSTON
“Run by volunteers, fuelled by enthusiasm, a home for older and younger musicians extending the jazz tradition but still working within it.”
The Vortex is at 11 Gillett Square, London, N16 8AZ. Open Tuesday-Sunday.
CAFÉ OTO, DALSTON
“A fine listening space for the more experimental end of the music, incorporating things that don’t sound like jazz but couldn’t exist without its inspiration.” Cafe OTO is at 18-22 Ashwin St, London E8 3DL. Open Monday-Saturday.
If you value On London’s coverage, become a supporter or a paying subscriber to publisher and editor Dave Hill’s personal Substack for just £5 a month or £50 a year. In return, you’ll get a fab London newsletter and offers of free tickets to top events.