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All That Jazz in Soho

Jazz in Soho Soho
8 September, 2023 Lifestyle

We have the Original Jazz Band to thank for bringing Jazz to Britain’s shores with their tour in 1919, which thrust this music genre into the limelight in the 1920s.

Some hundred years on London’s jazz scene is still thriving, with many venues situated in Soho, the birthplace of Britain’s music scene. While Club Eleven on Great Windmill Street might be long gone, it played a vital role in the emergence of modern Jazz in Britain when it opened its doors in 1948, and today, Soho remains at the centre of this improvised music form.

Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club

A given that @officialronnies would feature at the top of this list since it is not only London’s most iconic Jazz venue but also the World’s. Originally opened to host American jazz musicians in Britain in 1959, many of whom are framed on the walls, today this intimate setting offers drinks, dinner and entertainment in one sleek venue.

Take a seat at one of the low‑lit tables or in a booth to lap up one of the electric performances on the stage where Jimmy Hendrix played his last‑ever gig. Don’t forget the no‑talking rule here as a sign of respect for the musicians and other guests.

PizzaExpress Live

Dough balls and Jazz? You heard us right. But this is no ordinary Pizza Express, as @pizzaexpresslive on Dean Street has a lot more going for it than its choice of toppings. 

This welcoming basement setting opened in 1976 and has hosted big names like Ella Fitzgerald, Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones and even Sting. The low lighting of PizzaExpress Live continues to be a local jazz haunt where music lovers flock for the latest live gig on the stage where many big names have started their musical careers.

Gerry’s Club

You don’t need to be Einstein to figure that Soho has a vibrant bar and music scene. Just walk down Old Compton Street and see the streets are well and truly alive. But where do the old timers of Soho head? Musicians, the actors, the journalists, well, that is easy, Gerry’s Club, of course. This drinking den is so discreet that we don’t think it even has an IG handle, and who cares, as this is a Soho institution where the emphasis on having a good time has remained the same since opening its doors in the 1950s. Live music performances are held throughout the week, including some seriously cool Jazz sets too. Gerry’s, we salute you.

Jazz After Dark

It does not need to be dark to enjoy Jazz, but we think it does help in creating the right atmosphere to sink into this mellow music. Cue @jazzafterdarkbar, one of those Soho’s old timers that continues to be as popular today as when it opened in 1985. This understated venue was also a hangout for Amy Winehouse, who secured herself a gig here after asking for a job behind the bar, explaining the shrine to her here. Live music is played every night but well into the dark from Tuesday to Saturday when things wrap up in the early hours of the morning.

The Piano Bar

Head west of Soho Square to possibly one of Soho’s cosiest Jazz venues, @pianobarsoho set within a handsome Georgian townhouse. Knock on the door to be greeted by a friendly member of staff who will welcome you into this relaxing music venue set over a series of different rooms, including a cinema and a cocktail lounge upstairs.

Jazz performances are from Wednesdays to Saturdays in the middle of a dimly lit room allowing the audience to get close to the musicians while sipping on one of their delicious cocktails.

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