When people think of jazz music invariably they also think of New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. Having been to The Big Easy multiple times over the last decade, I can unfortunately say that some wonderful clubs were lost in 2005 as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Thankfully the city has come back to life and is as lively and vibrant as ever. Classic venues have been repaired, new clubs have appeared, and once again the jazz is flowing through the streets at full strength.
Feel the pull of jazz seven nights a week
To get an authentic taste of what jazz in New Orleans was like prior to the hurricane, head on over to BMC, the Balcony Music Club. Amazing jazz and blues musicians pass by here seven nights a week. As you approach the building the music will pull you inside. Don’t fight the urge, just grab a drink from the bar, take a seat and enjoy the show.
Get a warm local welcome at the Spotted Cat
Not far down the street is The Spotted Cat Music Club, which has become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to TV mentions by none-other than Conan O’Brien. From the minute you walk in to this cozy place there is a sense of family, and everyone is warm and welcoming. It’s also a very casual jazz club, so feel free to show up in a t-shirt or even sandals.
Truly magnificent jazz music
Over in the heart of the French Quarter is another one of my favorites, Preservation Hall. Don’t be intimidated by the long lines, the wait is well worth it. That line proves how amazing this place is, despite being a simple jazz bar with no food, no drinks and no air-conditioning, just magnificent jazz from some truly talented individuals. It is open seven nights a week but only for three hours, featuring three 45-minute performances, each one starting on the hour.
The city ambassador’s jazz hideout
If you are looking for something a bit classier, walk on down to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse located inside of the Royal Sonesta Hotel on the world famous Bourbon Street. Mayfield is a talented jazz musician and New Orleans native, as well as the Cultural Ambassador of the city. His first jazz club boasts dozens of talented performers and the shows kick off every night at 8 p.m. Best part? There is no cover charge. Definitely a must visit for any jazz connoisseur.
Follow the music
These are but a fraction of the countless amazing jazz clubs and bars in the heart of New Orleans. If you are still not sure where to go, just walk around and follow your ears. Music is always in the air in New Orleans.
Have you been to New Orleans? What was your favorite musical experience?
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