When we think of jazz music, especially in the United States, our mind often turns to New Orleans and the rich jazz and blues culture it holds. However, nestled in the heart of the US capital, lies plenty of burgeoning jazz bars full of fantastic musicians and plenty of atmosphere.
Here are some of the unique places you can visit in Washington DC if you’re looking to unwind with some jazz:
Established in the basement of an old pharmacy in 1926, Bohemian Caverns will provide you with the musical prescription you need. As one of the oldest jazz clubs in the country, it’s housed many legendary names in the genre. Legends like Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and even Miles Davis have donned the stage at this legendary cave-like venue over the years. The Bohemian Caverns is still the place to be for local jazz music, as well as more renowned acts. Enjoy some authentic and contemporary jazz alongside Southern food favorites down at 2001 11th Street for a truly memorable and cultural evening.
The Howard Theatre
A theatre may not sound like the ideal venue for jazz music, however this building from the 1910s has recently been restored to its original grandeur, alluring the perfect setting for an evening of jazz. Located on the U Street Corridor, the Howard Theatre was once home to some of the biggest names in the jazz scene, including big name jazz bands headed by Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. The latest restoration leaves standing room for up to 1,000 people at a time, and powerful acoustics to let the syrupy sweet jazz melt between the ears. This is the perfect venue to head to if you want to hear the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Louie Armstrong or Nat King Cole.
Aptly named, this fantastic venue is situated in an alleyway just off Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. Hailed as one of the longest continuing jazz and dinner clubs in the country, the Blues Alley has entertained some of the biggest and most pioneering names in jazz, such as Maynard Ferguson, Dizzie Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan. The interior intimate setting is decorated to remind you of the jazz heyday of the 20s and 30s. Enjoy some fantastic gospel, jazz, R&B and soul acts alongside some authentic Creole cuisine in this retro bluesy bar.
If you’re looking to take in a jazzy evening, why not unwind with some food and music after you’ve taken in the sights of the city? The Gray Line DC After Dark tour encompasses some of the most famous landmarks in the capital, all from a stunning evening viewpoint. Take in the beautiful lights and enjoy some photo ops before you transport yourself back to the 1920s in one of DC’s famous jazz and blues bars.