From its roots in the deep south to more surprising finds today throughout New England and into Canada, jazz has permeated the world. Here are five noteworthy jazz destinations for your next music-inspired trip.
New Orleans, Louisiana
With diverse cultural influences, New Orleans, considered the birthplace of jazz, is a must for jazz-loving travelers.
At the New Orleans Jazz Museum, you’ll find an impressive collection of music-related artifacts and rotating jazz-themed exhibits.
With its swinging style, Kansas City’s signature jazz ushered in a new era, from Big Band to a more improvisational style of jazz. With notables like Count Basie and native Charlie Parker claiming Kansas City as home, and with more than 40 jazz and fine-dining venues offering tunes every night of the week, Kansas City must be on any jazz-lover’s list.
At the American Jazz Museum, learn about the legends and legacy of jazz in Kansas City and snag tickets to a live show at The Blue Room, an intimate venue showcasing the area’s top musicians with regular free jazz sessions.
New York City, New York
In the city that never sleeps, there’s no shortage of jazz experiences, however intentional or happened-upon.
Classic venues that won’t disappoint include the Blue Note in Greenwich Village, which features some of today’s most revered artists plus up-and-comers across genres. Birdland in the Theater District is another historic mainstay, once home to headliner Charlie “Bird” Parker. In Harlem, Bill’s Place continues the legacy of tenor saxophonist Bill Paxton. From iconic 1960s gigs by John Coltrane, Village Vanguard is another must: catch the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra live on Monday nights.
Happen upon a set at a great club, like Tomi Jazz in Midtown, or any number of restaurants and cafes that offer duos and trios nightly as you dine.
Known most for its widely popular annual International Jazz Festival, Montreal is a must for any jazz fan. Each summer, the festival hosts thousands of artists over 10 days, with artists performing on a dozen outdoor stages.
For a jazz night out any time of year, head over to Diese Onze for a live set and elevated fare. Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill offers an intimate setting filled with a variety of live artists most nights, plus a robust dinner menu and cocktails.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
The Portsmouth Jazz Festival, now known as Tommy Gallant Jazz Festival, renamed in honor of the legendary local jazz pianist and composer, has been an annual draw for music lovers for 40 years.