Atlanta is known as a major hip-hop center of the world, yet the city also has a robust live jazz scene.
Atlanta has a rich heritage of jazz musicians as the home of several world-renowned jazz musicians, including the legendary pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams, Grammy award-winning jazz singer Joe Williams and iconic contemporary-jazz trumpet player Joey “Papa J” Sommerville.
In a city with so much talent and an abundance of nightlife, it can be a challenge to sift through all of the live music options with the hopes of finding a cool cat with jazzy sounds. So, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a list of what are some of the best spots for live jazz in Atlanta.
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Café 290 first gained national recognition as one of only three jazz venues in the country selected to unveil the U.S. Postal Services Jazz Legends postage stamps. The venue is a great spot for celebrity sightings and has previously hosted musicians Tony Royster, Paul Taylor and Ken Ford. Upcoming shows include Joe Gransden and his 16 Piece Big Band (first and third Monday of every month) and Reggie Hines (every Saturday) with an open mic every Sunday night. Try to get there early and ask owner John Scatena to share some stories that are as legendary as the venue itself.
7 p.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday. 7 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. $10-$15. 290 Hilderbrand Dr., Atlanta. 404-256-3942, cafe290atlanta.com.
St. James Live Jazz Club
Located just five miles from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, St. James Live has a warm relaxing atmosphere while offering an intimate concert experience. The home of Smooth Jazz Sundays has previously hosted artists Bob James (Fourplay), Nathan East (Fourplay) and Euge Groove. Upcoming shows at the venue include Lindsey Webster, Chris Standring and Brian Simpson.
6 p.m.-midnight. Thursday-Saturday. $15 -$100. 3220 Butner Road, Atlanta. 404-254-3561, stjamesliveatl.com.
The Velvet Note Acoustic Living Room
The four-time consecutive winner of Downbeat’s “Best Jazz Clubs” award is an intimate, upscale 40-seat room with pristine acoustics, a restaurant and a full bar. Past performers include Robert Glasper, Larry Carlton and Gretchen Parlato. Upcoming performances feature Bobby Watson and Special EFX with an open mic jam every Thursday from 8 p.m. to midnight.
6:30-11:30 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. $29-$54 (Except for super-premium shows. Reservations are highly encouraged.) 4075 Old Milton Parkway, Alpharetta. 855.5.VELVET, thevelvetnote.com.
Callanwolde Fine Arts Center
Callanwolde’s Jazz on the Lawn outdoor concert series kicks off Aug. 23 and showcases incredible performers, including Joe Gransden, Francine Reed and Bob Baldwin. Guests are encouraged to bring a blanket and a picnic while enjoying the concerts.
Aug. 23, Sept. 6 and 20, Oct. 4 and 11. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show from 7:30-9:30 p.m. $35 and up. 980 Briarcliff Road, Atlanta. 404-872-5338, callanwolde.org.
The restaurant, bar and live music venue in Old Fourth Ward features a weekly jazz jam every Tuesday hosted by living legend Joe Gransden and his house band every Tuesday evening. The Atlanta Latin Jazz Orchestra, which features some of the finest musicians in the Southeast and is led by Atlanta music scene veteran Rob Opitz, plays monthly and makes even the most difficult music sound easy. Jonathan Scales Fourchestra returns to the venue on Aug. 3.
Check the website for price, dates and times of performances. Venkman’s. 740 Ralph McGill Blvd. NE, Atlanta. 470-225-6162, venkmans.com.
This cozy music bar and restaurant in the heart of Midtown is known for its authentic atmosphere and great martinis. The venue has hosted several famed jazz musicians, including Jorel “JFly” Flynn, Trey Daniels and “Sweet Lu” Olutosin. Upcoming shows include Eva Kennedy and Reci Reign with an open mic jam session every Thursday night.
Tuesday-Saturday. 5 p.m.-12:30 a.m. $10 (Many of the shows have no cover charge.) 970 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta. 404-347-2263, katscafeatlanta.com.
Red Light Café
Red Light Café is one of Atlanta’s true hidden gems known for producing shows with Charlie Hunter, Myrna Clayton’s International Jazz Series and Nick Rosen. It hosts a weekly Wednesday Jazz Jam with Georgia State University professor Gordon Vernick, and every fourth Friday is Myrna Clayton’s Atlanta Jazz International Sounds Series.
7-11 p.m. (Hours vary by show). $10-$25 (Weekly jazz jam is $5), 553-1 Amsterdam Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-874-7828, redlightcafe.com.
Located in the lobby of Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta, Lumen is a sleek bar that features a variety of live music throughout the week with electric guitar, jazz and classic hits by Cooper Tisdale on Mondays and Mathew Miller with saxophone jazz on Wednesdays.
2:30-11 p.m. (Complimentary live music from 5-8 p.m.) Daily. 181 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 404-659-0400, ritzcarlton.com/atlanta.
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