Posted: February 22, 2019
Where to Hear Live Jazz in Bristol City Centre
Bristol’s music scene is of a world-class and has produced pioneers in everything from drum and bass to trip hop, but one genre that has been a firm favourite in the city since the 1950’s is jazz. Home to not one but two jazz festivals and with live offerings on almost every night of the week, Bristol has something for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned jazz enthusiast or just getting into the genre. Check out this City Centre BID guide on where to find the best live jazz in town…
The Old Duke
The unmistakable red brick pub on King Street put on its first live jazz band back in 1967 when the Rhythm Kings played in the small upstairs clubroom. Originally intended as a one off, the Saturday sessions became a regular occurance and were quickly joined by various weekday events and you can now catch live music every night of the week at this Bristol institution. The venue also hosts an annual Jazz Festival, now called the Swing Festival and in its 41st year, on August bank holiday weekend.
Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival at Colston Hall
Colston Hall has been booking jazz powerhouses such as Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald since long before the Festival’s inauguration seven years ago, but it has really made a name for itself as a go-to jazz venue since becoming home to the event. The festival’s programme is designed to be accessible by all, be it school children or OAPs, and celebrates jazz and blues in all its forms throughout the three-day schedule. In 2019, whilst Colston Hall undergoes a huge refurb, the festival will take place across The O2 Academy, St George’s Bristol and The Anson Rooms.
The BeBop Club at The Bear
Claiming to be the longest running modern jazz club in Bristol, The BeBop Club has been putting on live jazz nights every Friday since “about 1989”. The gigs are ticketed and hosted in the function room at the back of The Bear pub in Hotwells, where patrons are expected to enjoy the performances with minimal talking. It’s unlikely you’ll have heard off any of the musicians who play here but it’s a great practice space for up and coming local artists.
St George’s Bristol
Known widely for its incredible acoustics, St George’s is a beautiful and impressive concert hall which has been putting on live music events since 1999 and is large enough to host all but the biggest names in jazz. The church has also recently had a pavilion-style extension with a smaller performance space for more intimate events. Although perhaps better known for classical concerts, St George’s is one of the venues hosting events for the Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival this year whilst Colston Hall is closed.
Jazz at Future Inn
Possibly the only purpose-built live jazz bar in the city, this lesser-known joint is situated under Chophouse restaurant in Future Inn and offers live jazz every Thursday. Grab a table or a booth and enjoy table service on food and drinks whilst being entertained by a different musician each week. The bar hosts a variety of jazz performers from local talent to internationally renowned entertainers, but entry is always kept at a fairly priced £10.
The Bristol Fringe
Every Wednesday this Clifton pub hosts Jazz Fringe, a weekly live jazz night which has been running in the pubs dedicated music room since 2012 (except for one year in 2015 when they trialled moving to The Mall just up the road). Buying tickets ahead of the night is highly recommended as this uniquely intimate venue tends to fill up rather quickly, with tickets even frequently selling out well in advance.