There’s nothing like spending an evening in a low-lit jazz bar to transport you from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether its the latest contemporary bebop that gets you going, or strains of Miles Davis’s ‘Autumn Leaves’ taking you back in time that does it for you, jazz in Sydney can be enjoyed at a fair few brilliant spots. Here are 10 of the best.
10 Best Spots for Jazz in Sydney
The oldest licensed music venue in Sydney, The Basement opened in 1972 and has had quite a roster of formidable jazz talent gracing it’s stage, from Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Art Pepper and Herbie Hancock to Galapagos Duck and Vince Jones. Today the club sees as much swing, rock’n’roll, dance and alt folk as it does jazz in Sydney.
7 Macquarie Place, Sydney NSW 2000 • Mon-Sun, 12pm-1am
Venue 505 started out on the underground circuit ten years ago. An artist-led space that nurtures local talent, while inviting some established international artists to play, 505 moved to its current Surry Hills location in 2011 and has become a firm favourite for jazz in Sydney.
280 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010 • Mon-Sat, 6pm-11pm
A secret den of a place, this Marrickville haunt hosts a range of jazz in Sydney, coupled with swing, blues, folk and cabaret nights, with reggae and gypsy jazz in between. It seems to be ‘Camelot’ as in ‘camels’, not King Arthur – there are camel statues and related paraphernalia all over walls, surfaces and stage corners, making it a wonderfully quirky space.
103 Railway Parade/19 Marrickville Road, Marrickville NSW 2204 • Thu-Sun, 7pm-11pm; Fri-Sat, 7.30pm-11.45pm; Sun, 6.30pm-10.45pm
With it’s cosy, 1920s-style interior, The Vanguard in Newtown is the perfect place to enjoy jazz in Sydney. Think plush red carpets, neat tables lit with small candles, and an elevated stage that has hosted an array of the biggest local and international names.
42 King St, Newtown NSW 2042 • Sun-Wed, 6.30pm-12am; Thu-Sat, 6.30pm-1am
One of Sydney’s newest venues for jazz in Sydney, Foundry 616 was opened by Australian jazz aficionado Peter Rechniewski in 2013. A proud sponsor of the annual Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival and Jazzgroove Association, the Ultimo venue is your go-to place for fresh contemporary jazz and crossover, including Latin, African, soul and funk.
616 Harris Street, Ultimo NSW 2007 • Sun-Thu, 7.30pm-1am; Fri-Sat, 7.30pm-2am
The Sound Lounge
Nestled within University of Sydney’s glass-fronted Seymour Centre, The Sound Lounge is a deliciously low lit jazz venue run by Sydney Improvised Music Association. Expect expert sound and a smattering of cabaret and comedy nights thrown in with the regular jazz spots.
City Rd, Chippendale NSW 2008 • opening times vary depending on events
Hosting live music seven days a week, Lazybones has a super chilled, old-school vibe. The decor is eclectic and elegant, with chandeliers hanging from a muraled ceiling, and the bar serves a great range of local beers with a good value food menu. Like the decor, the jazz is eclectic and inclusive.
294 Marrickville Road, Marrickville NSW 2204 • Mon-Wed, 5pm-12am; Thu-Sat, 5pm-3am; Sun, 5pm-10pm
The Golden Sheaf
Tuesday is jazz night at The Sheaf and the newly refurbished Garden Bar guarantees it’s a memorable one. The night features James Valentine – who has been playing sax for decades – and his quartet serving up great jazz in Sydney during their weekly Supper Club.
429 New South Head Road, Double Bay NSW 2028 • Mon-Wed, 10am-1am; Thu-Sat, 10am-2am; Sun, 11am-12am
Only the coolest jazz cats will know Colbourne Avenue. An acoustic venue owned by Glebe’s Cafe Church, it’s all comfy sofas and table lamps, and feels more like somebody’s house than a public venue. Jazz here is a chilled, first come first served, BYO affair every Thursday.
37-47 St Johns Rd/Colbourne Ave, Glebe NSW 2037 • Thu, 8pm onwards
Jazushi does exactly what it says on the tin: brings together live jazz in Sydney and Japanese fashion cuisine. And why not? For ten years the Surry Hills spot has been bringing a fine roster of jazz artists to discerning diners, with live music now on the bill almost every day of the week.
145 Devonshire Street/Clisdell Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010 • Tues-Sun, 6pm-late
– Rosie Pentreath
Rosie Pentreath is a freelance arts journalist who moved from the UK to Sydney in April 2015, just to shake things up a bit. Formerly Digital Editor & Staff Writer at BBC Music Magazine, she has bylines in BBC Music Magazine, Homes & Antiques magazine and The Debrief, to name a few. When she’s not writing, she’s most happy running around with a Pentax MV1 SLR camera or discovering as much new music as she can. Rosie tweets at @RosiePentreath, writes on Medium and updates this blog with her experiences in Australia.