20 top jazz spots - UK and Ireland

Introducing the countdown - only spots among the many actually visited rather than just read or dreamt about are listed. These spots or clubs are mainly in London and in Ireland because that's where we usually review in. Criteria are only based …

Published: 14 Jun 2022. Updated: 2 days.

Introducing the countdown - only spots among the many actually visited rather than just read or dreamt about are listed. These spots or clubs are mainly in London and in Ireland because that's where we usually review in. Criteria are only based on the quality of the music policy and the all-round congeniality

20 Servant Jazz Quarters, Dalston

Not enough jazz on to be a first call draw. But when it is on Alice's excellent spot is great for atmosphere and handy just along the street for The Dalston Jazz Bar a laidback spot convenient for the imbibing of a few pre-prandials and some casual listening usually to a small combo if you can squeeze in. The SJQ sound comes across quite natural downstairs and isn't brutal when the amp is whacked up if it indeed has to be.

19 Berts, Belfast

Housed in a fancy restaurant inside an even ritzier hotel this venue has invested heavily in jazz over the years. And the music plays on every night featuring a familiar cast of musicians. Grab a seat at the bar to listen

18 The Oxford Tavern, Kentish Town

Blue Mondays are no more given the goodwill engendered regularly in this above-a-pub spot

17 Magy's Farm, Dechomet

A bucolic setting for a growing scene stepping in to the parlour deep in the heart of Down

16 Jazz Cafe, Camden

In the news the freehold is up for sale (for a cool £6.15m according to The Ham and High if you are out shopping) but it's business as usual at this high profile chain venue Camden institution who will have more competition soon when Ellen's a stroll away across to Mornington Crescent builds up a head of steam

15 The Green Note, Camden

Tiny, the names aren't as internationally known as down at the Jazz Cafe, but the place has an intimacy to die for and the smaller of the two spaces is like a Tardis for the jazz and blues swirling around among the folky mists

14 Pizza Express Live, Holborn

Bigger than its Soho sister venue and more eclectic the lighting is better and the jazz, soul and more in the programming are always worth checking in on

13 Cafe Oto, Dalston

Avant-garde haven. Free-jazz, improv, and much, much more at this hipsters' home from home

12 Bennigan's bar, Derry

Run by a pianist, this unpretentious bar comes alive during the Derry jazz festival each year in May

11 Toulouse Lautrec, Kennington

Boho spot just south of the river. A busy part of the gigging scene

10 100 Club, Oxford Street

Not jazz all the time or even that much by any means. But when it's on as memorably last year when Lady Blackbird made her historic London debut the place is certainly on fire

9 The Pheasantry, Chelsea

Reminiscent of the programming provided by the much missed Pizza on the Park in Knightsbridge often songs from the shows feature as much as jazz but this fine chain-owned spot in a beautiful building is nonetheless worth visiting as often as the jazz strand of the programming commands concentrated attention

8 606, Chelsea

A flautist-run spot popular among musicians Steve Rubie's place puts on a regular roster of straightahead and bebop-loving acts in a highly efficient manner

7 Dolans Warehouse, Limerick

Puts on all sorts of music but you will travel a long way to find a better small venue spot than here down by the Shannon at the back of a decent pub especially in September when the jazz festival takes place

6 Hampstead Jazz Club, Hampstead

Very atmospheric basement club under a pub. Putting on more and more jazz all the time, the atmosphere is inspiring here in the heart of one of literary London's most historic districts

5 Crazy Coqs, Soho

''Relax on the axis of the wheel of life, to get the feel of life from jazz and cocktails'' in the classic words of 'Lush Life'. A very fine cabaret and jazz basement spot beneath a French restaurant that is blessed with a superb piano, second only in the West End jazz clubs to the Yamaha in Ronnie's

4 The Spice of Life, Soho

Likeable basement spot under a pub with good sightlines if you are in-it- for-the-'Gram that comes alive especially during the London Jazz Festival

3 Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho

Everyone's favourite Soho basement jazz club

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2 Vortex, Dalston

More of the shape of jazz to come in the new-look club (above). Photo: Vortex News & Grooves

1 Ronnie Scott's, Soho

Still the best jazz experience anywhere

Pictures on a wall of the 100 Club, top, look as you have a Na'er. Photo: marlbank

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Tags: venues

Steve Cardenas, Ben Allison, Ted Nash - 'Ictus,' Sunnyside ***

Track of the day is drawn from Healing Power: The Music of Carla Bley out on 8 July and new from Steve Cardenas, top, publicity photo, Ben Allison and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra saxist Ted Nash - in other words a very ''acoustic-sounding'' …

Published: 13 Jun 2022. Updated: 22 days.

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Track of the day is drawn from Healing Power: The Music of Carla Bley out on 8 July and new from Steve Cardenas, top, publicity photo, Ben Allison and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra saxist Ted Nash - in other words a very ''acoustic-sounding'' setting involving guitar, double bass and reeds. These fine players are all leaders heard elsewhere in their own right and came together again given their longstanding association as playing partners to record Healing Power a year ago at a studio in rural Pennsylvania. Carla Bley piece 'Ictus' is first known from its inclusion on the 1965-released Paul Bley Quintet album Barrage (ESP Disk) and was covered most recently back in 2018 in a much more riotous trio version by drummer Tamaya Honda and pals. With no drummer on the Cardenas trio's version the arrangement on this new release is quite different. Nash does a lot of the running and sounds a little Paul Desmond-like at times crucially within a Giuffrian panorama. Allison is very fast and plays extremely cleanly while Cardenas when his moment comes is airily thoughtful and it is as if he has all the time in the world.

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