Jazz up your evening with these live music opportunities
By Steph Dye (follow Steph on Twitter: @HelloIAmSteph)
In a city as vast and vibrant as London, it is easy to find music to suit anyone’s taste, from metal to classical; R’n’B to Pop; Swing to trance. However, as is often the way, too much choice can lead to an inability to see anything at all. Well, not to worry. If it’s jazz you are after, we have picked out ten of the best places to catch some without the extortionate price tag that some places can charge.
Whilst all of theses live music venues charge less than £10, some of them are more expensive than others. Check out the ‘£’ icon for a rough guide: £ = free or just a couple of quid for entry | ££ = mid-range, but still definitely giving you plenty of change from a tenner | £££ = Closer to the £10 mark. Unfortunately this price only includes entry but we have also tried to give a clear indication of drink prices, so you’ll know exactly how much you are spending before you go and can budget accordingly!
#1 Ronnie Scott’s | Tottenham Court Road | £££
What is it?: The concerts at Ronnie Scott’s is a great way to relax on any night, plus another way to continue drinking without having to resort to clubbing. Every show sees a different act perform so go online and check the website for something perfectly suited to your tastes. (Plus, if you book online and in advance you get will get tickets for less.)
How much is it? For night owls, there is the Late Late Show (from 11pm weekdays and 1am on weekends) and entry starts at just £6. However, there’s a discount for students carrying their NUS or student union card and it is free for members. Entry also gains you access for the entire night, which stays open until 3am. For Upstairs @ Ronnies situated on the first floor, there is live jazz every night of the week except Tuesdays (unsigned bands), Fridays (Cuban night) and Saturdays (DJ’s night). Finally, for the main club, tickets are a bit expensive starting at £20, and you should book in advance as most of the shows are sold out prior to the dates. Beware however, this is not a place for cheap drinks: wine starts at £6.25 (175ml) and spirits begin at £7.
When is it?: Monday-Saturday, 6pm – 3am; Sunday, 6:30pm-12am.
Where is it?: 47 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 4HT.
#2 | Kansas Smitty’s | Hackney | ££
What is it?: Bringing the Southern staples of swing and mint juleps to an intimate basement below Broadway Market is Kansas Smitty’s. From the live house band to a whole roster of surprise special guests, any fans of jazz are likely to be Kansas smitten with this place within a matter of minutes. On Wednesdays, ‘Basement Tapes’ features a ‘pic’n’mix style line-up of house band members and special guests, joining forces for a rip-roaring night of fun (plus, if you have a student card, get £3 off entry). On a Thursday, visit for ‘The Shed’ and prepare to have your horizons broadened with everything from a classical accordionist to an Indian Sarod player gracing the stage.
How much is it?: Events vary in price, as some are free, whilst others cost about £5 so check the website for more details. Even the drinks are reasonable, with cocktails starting at just £8.
When is it?: Tuesday-Sunday, 6pm-12am
Where is it?: 63-65 Broadway Market, E8 4PH
#3 | The Cat and Mutton | Hackney | £
What is it?: Established in 1729, this large pub, set over two floors is a part of East London history, as well as it’s social scene. The hearty selection of pub grub and cocktails will keep you full of energy for the weekly entertainment. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, check out the Blues, Jazz and Boogie tunes played by the house’s favourite ivory tinklers. Music starts from 8pm and is free all night.
How much is it?: Like we mentioned, the jazz is free to watch and drinks are also reasonable, cocktails start at £8 however wine is just £4.50 for a medium glass or grab a can of craft beer for just £4.30.
When is it?: Monday, 12pm-11pm; Tuesday-Thursday, 12pm-12am; Friday-Saturday 12pm-1am; Sunday, 12pm-11.30pm. However, the music is from 8pm, Tuesday and Thursday.
Where is it?: 76 Broadway Market, Hackney, E8 4QJ
#4 | Vortex Club | Dalston | ££
What is it?: A renowned jazz club that hosts over 400 events a year, the Vortex club has been voted one of the best 150 jazz clubs in the world. Now open for over 25 years, the club has seen many now famous musicians pass through it’s doors at the beginning of their careers, such as the mercury nominated Polar Bear and the Portico Quartet.
How much is it?: The Vortex club can be incredibly hit and miss in terms of prices, whilst some events can cost as much as £10 or £12, a fair few events are free, so check out the website to find suitable events. At the downstairs club, there is a cocktail bar with drinks that start about £7. However, get there early and hit Happy Hour (every day, 4pm-7pm) where the every cocktail is just £5.
When is it?: Everyday, 8pm-12am.
Where is it?: Vortex Jazz Club, 11 Gillett Square, N16 8AZ.
#5 | The Royal Albert Hall | Kensington | £
What is it?: When I say: “Royal Albert Hall”; you say “wayyy too expensive!” However, if you don’t head for the main auditorium and check out the Verdi Italian Kitchen instead, you can listen to free music every Friday, played by either the house band or a special guest. The music isn’t always jazz, so check out the website beforehand but on the plus side, you get to relax, listen to some great music and enjoy some delicious food and drink.
How much is it?: The music is absolutely free to listen to. Unfortunately, drinking is quite expensive, costing £6 for a medium glass wine. However, food is more reasonable: the set menu is £14.50 for 2 courses, perfect for a treat, considering the location.
When is it?: Music starts at 12pm, every Friday. Spaces are limited so make sure you book in advance on the website.
Where is it?: Verdi Italian Kitchen, Grand Tier, Door 12, Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP.
#6 | Mill Hill Jazz Club | Mill Hill | £££
What is it?: Bringing jazz to North London since 1999, the Mill Hill Jazz Club is a great value venue for checking out both emerging talent and big-name stars. Now located in the Mill Hill Golf Club, the jazz club has moved around several times over the years but has now settled in the clubhouse, transforming it every Wednesday night into the mellowest joint around.
How much is it?: Prices generally cost between £5-£10 for entry, but less if you become a member.
When is it?: Every Wednesday, from 8.30pm onwards.
Where is it?: Mill Hill Golf Club Clubhouse, 100 Barnet Way, Mill Hill, NW7 3AJ.
#7 | The Morden Arms | Greenwich | £
What is it?: A traditional London pub, tucked away on a Greenwich side street seems like an odd place to have a regular jazz night. However, they do just that on a Thursday afternoon. In fact, they have a whole roster of live music and comedy that takes up the entirety of the weekend, perfect for keeping everyone occupied.
How much is it?: The live music is all free to attend. Drinks are also cheap, at about £3.60 for a pint.
When is it?: Thursday lunchtimes, from midday.
Where is it?: Brand Street, Greenwich, SE10 8SP.
#8 | Southbank Centre | Waterloo | £
What is it?: The Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre is a hive of constant, creative energy, whatever time of the day or night you go. Friday Lunch and Friday Tonic are free concerts that showcase talented musicians from around the world, from a variety of different musical genres. This often happens to be jazz, so swing by to check out some great music, either during the day or after lunch.
How much is it?: The music is completely free to listen to. A medium glass of wine is £4.75, a pint of beer is £4.35, not entirely unreasonable. Especially as the music is free.
When is it?: Fridays, 1pm-2pm; 5:30pm-7pm.
Where is it?: Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX.
#9| The Eleanor Arms | Bow | £
What is it?: Awarded the Community Pub of the Year award by CAMRA (ELAC branch) for a second time, this pub is definitely somewhere to head is you are in search of a good time. Hidden down a back road, close to Stratford and Victoria Park, the pub offers the best of both worlds: close proximity to transport and busy parts of London but also the quiet calm of a backstreet pub.
How much is it?: The jazz is completely free to enjoy.
When is it?: The Jazz Jam takes place every Sunday night and is from 8pm onwards.
Where is it?: 460 Old Ford Road, Bow, E3 5JP.
#10 | Jamboree | Limehouse | ££
What is it?: Certainly the most unusual venue on our list, the Jamboree is part chintz-y living room, part bohemian drinking den. They hold a variety of nights during the week and regularly host jazz musicians as part of the line-up, though you may need to check the website for specific dates and times.
How much is it?: Tickets generally cost between £3 and £8. Depending on the event, some tickets can be bought at a discounted price online, before the event whilst some are only sold on the door.
When is it?: Events take place pretty much every night, from 7pm-11pm. However, the venue is sometimes closed for private events so keep an eye on the website before you visit.
Where is it?: Jamboree, Cable Street Studios Courtyard, 566 Cable Street, Limehouse, E1W 3HB.
Fancying more culture? Why not check out our list of the top free art exhibitions in London this Autumn.
Or perhaps all of that thinking made you hungry? We’ve got a some great dinner options for that!