When it comes to listening to music, location doesn’t really matter – we’re all plugged into our smartphones, anyway. But a great night at a jazz club reminds us of the magic of live music. Forget La La Land, here are some of the best venues in Europe that get the jazzy atmosphere right.
Rome: Casa del Jazz
The beautiful Casa del Jazz was originally a villa that belonged to a crime boss in the 1920s. After his death it was transformed into a jazz club and eventually became one of the biggest names in Rome’s jazz scene. Not only is it a great live music joint, it offers an educational jazz tour and organizes lectures, presentations, readings and festivals.
Casa del Jazz has a 150-seat auditorium, rehearsal rooms, library, restaurant and even a park for concerts.
Viale di Porta Ardeatina 55 00154, Rome; +39 06 70 47 31.
Brussels: The Music Village
This club has a short history of 12 years, but it already has a reputation as one of the most classic jazz clubs in Brussels. The Music Village hosts more than 250 shows a year, including the Brussels International Young Jazz Singers Competition, making it a haven of aspiring musicians from around the world. It’s a non-smoking venue. No watery eyes or ashtray breath in here.
Steenstraat 50, 1000, Brussels; +32 02 513 50 52.
Berlin: A-Trane International Jazz Club
Founded in 1992, A Trane is one of the hippest clubs in Berlin, with the awards and accolades to prove it. “Downbeat” magazine called A Trane one of the best jazz clubs in the world.
Giants who have performed at the club include Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall, Ray Brown and Arthur Blythe. The club’s Jazz After Midnight (JAM) program is an after-midnight jam session.
Pestalozzistrasse 105, 10625 Berlin; +49 30 3132 550.
Oslo, Norway: Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene
The Norwegian jazz community has migrated around various jazz clubs and venues over the years, but it’s safe to say that the final, official destination has become the Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene.
Supported by the Ministry of Culture, it’s sleek and sophisticated, with galleries on each side of the stage and an amphitheater with comfy sofa seats. The bar offers wine and cocktails, but no food.
Karl Johans Gate 35, 0162, Oslo; +47 23 89 69 23.
London: Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club
In London, travelers can find anything they want in a jazz club.
Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club is probably the most famous. Established in 1959 by jazz musician Ronnie Scott, the club has an impressive history. Jimi Hendrix staged his last UK performance here. Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Chet Baker recorded live albums on Ronnie Scott’s stage.
The club hosts the Late Late Show, an informal after-show session, Monday to Thursday until 3 a.m. Tickets sell out quickly, despite the steep price.
47 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4HT; +44 20 7439 0747.
The Hideaway is a recent addition to London’s jazz scene. The newcomer opened in 2010 and quickly gained popularity with diverse acts, jazz workshops and organic menus.
In 2011, it won the Parliamentary Jazz Award’s Best New Venue. The club offers classic jazz, swing, soul and blues and also hosts comedy nights.
2 Empire Mews, Streatham, London SW16 2BF; +44 7538 586 742.
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Vienna: Porgy & Bess
Porgy & Bess is more like a concert hall than a bar. The building once housed a theater and cinema, but has since been transformed into a jazz haven, complete with a performance hall, gallery, music shop, restaurant, bars and recording studio. It’s not as casual as an ordinary bar, but not fancy enough to stop you from wearing jeans.
Riemergasse 11, 1010 Vienna; +43 1 512 88 11.
Paris: New Morning
New Morning is one of the most popular and important jazz clubs in Paris. With a capacity of more than 300 people, it’s casual and informal and offers diverse programs, with some kind of jazz for practically everyone. Wooden chairs and small tables surround the floor. Nothing fancy. Expect to dance once the music starts.
7&9 Rue des Petites Ecuries, Paris 75010; +33 1 45 23 51 41.
Paris: Autour de Midi … et Minuit
A bistro and jazz club in Montmartre, Autour de Midi … et Minuit occupies two independent spaces – a bistro on the ground floor and jazz club below. They’re united by good food, good music and good times. The cave-like club is small and cozy, perhaps a bit too intimate, but it offers a range of jazz.
Concerts are regularly held on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, while jam sessions are held Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
11 Rue Lepic, Paris 75018; +33 1 55 79 16 48.
Rachel Sang-hee Han is a freelance writer for CNN Travel. This article was previously published in 2012. It was reformatted and republished in 2017.