Many jazz legends once called Philadelphia home, including Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Dizzie Gillepsie and Charlie Parker. Even today, many greats – Pat Martino comes to mind – reside in the city. Lucky for us, the jazz scene here is vibrant, and you can find great live music any day of the week. See below for some of the top jazz clubs in Philadelphia.
Bob and Barbara’s
1509 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
The Crowd Pleasers perform every Friday and Saturday night beginning around 9:30 p.m. and ending at 2 a.m. The combo features a Hammond B-3 order and their self-labeled style of music is “Liquor Drinking Music.” Bob and Barbara’s has no cover charge and the Crowd Pleasers, who have been bringing their music to South Street for more than 20 years, play a combination of original pieces, jazz standards and the blues. Although the members are well into their 70s, the Crowd Pleasers impress with their performances and bring in a packed crowd.
Chris’ Jazz Cafe
1421 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Chris’ Jazz Café has been a favorite hangout among jazz enthusiasts for nearly 30 years and sees performances six nights a week (every night except Sunday) from both local and national musicians. This venue has hosted legends like Pat Martino and Jimmy Bruno, as well as Temple University students. As a premier spot for live jazz music in Philly, you can catch two acts on Friday and Saturday night and dine before the show. That’s because Chris’ also offers daily drink specials and a full menu including sandwiches, seafood and salads.
Paris Bistro and Jazz Cafe is a new restaurant and jazz club in Chestnut Hill. The dining room is designed to resemble a Parisian bistro from the 1930s, and down just one flight of stairs you’ll find the jazz club, where some of the best musicians in Philadelphia perform. The club seats 52 people on a first-come basis and performances are held Thursday through Sunday, three sets a night. Patrons can enjoy the full Bistro menu and wine list.
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7152 Ogontz Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19138
Relish offers live jazz three nights a week – Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays – featuring some of the hottest musicians in the city. Relish tries to maintain the feel of a traditional, intimate and stylish ’50s jazz club and no reservations here are available (although you may make them for the dining room). The menu here derives its taste from traditional Southern food, like honey barbecue chicken and deviled “Cajun shrimp” eggs.
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1315 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Walk past Time on Sansom Street and you are sure to hear the rich sounds of jazz emanating from its windows. This place has three sections to it – the dining room, whiskey bar and upstairs absinthe lounge/dance club. Head to the dining room for live jazz and soul; there are performances almost every day. While enjoying the music, you can also eat at the restaurant or have a drink at the bar. Time holds an open mic on Tuesdays and an open jam on Sundays if you’re looking for musicians to play with.
Kelly Neilson is a freelance writer living and working in Philadelphia. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.