Where to Enjoy Jazz Music in Miami

Sunday, March 04, 2018


The sultry sounds of saxophone, the dapper singer, the aromatic cigar- smoke filled room...Aaah the allure of jazz music.

While salsa, merengue, rumba, and reggaeton fill the clubs and spills out onto the streets, mixed in with blaring rap music and EDM from cars with windows rolled down, jazz music and scene are making a return since it's heyday in the 1930's when Count Basie, Lena Horne and Nat King Cole sizzled clubs on Miami Beach. 

Many visitors have asked me lately about places to hear jazz music. So I created this list of establishments that offer regular jazz music select nights. From your humble locales to original 1930's hotels, there's something for everyone. 


THE CORNER
For a casual setting and to enliven a humdrum start of the week, The Corner in north downtown is where locals continue drinking, mingling and enjoy nightlife music until 5am.  On Tuesdays, enjoy live jazz with a full service bar and kitchen for hungry nightowls including hearty sandwiches, soups and salads.  If The Corner is your second or third stop of the evening and you have to be at work next morning, this cocktail is for you-- "The Corpse Reviver No. 2" with Tanqueray Malaquay Gin, Cointreau, Lillet, Absinthe, and lemon.  No cover charge.





LE CHAT NOIR
In Central downtown, this establishment is a hidden gem. Located just north of the Miami River a block away from the soon-to-be-closed Macy's department store, Le Chat Noir is a favorite of mine. First the narrow street level entrance with handsome dark wood paneling reminds me of a romantic, cozy, candle-lit French bistro.  It gets better. Descending down a staircase to the basement (yes a rare basement in Miami!) one discovers an old cellar lined with wine bottles and small stage for musicians. Start the evening in the upstairs piano lounge enjoying drinks and bar bites particularly French-inspired wine and cheese until around 10pm when the jazz comes alive downstairs.( $10 cover charge) A little known secret: on the outside in front window is an original sign in black and yellow designating the establishment as a nuclear bomb shelter dating back to the 1960s. Basements and bomb shelters were a rarity in a city at water level. 




THE BETSY HOTEL
Right on the beach, at 14th street and Ocean Drive, the Betsy Hotel boasts the longest running jazz series.  Tuesday-Saturday nights from 6-11 pm, this colonial charming lobby and original pink and cream terrazzo flooring invites you to a free night of live jazz entertainment.

Honoring the birthplace of jazz in Miami, for 19 nights February 25 to March 10, the festival features 17 performances by 30 performers. Artists will play wide ranging Jazz genres including Traditional, Ecletic, and Latin Jazz, Root Music and much more. 

Overtown, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Miami is also home to jazz music in the Magic City. While the Depression cut across all economic strata it forced visit jazz bands, struggling local artists and drifters to collaborate outside of the glamorous South Beach where black artists could perform but not stay in the hotels. I encourage readers to learn more about the music and cultural history of Overtown where great musicians played and Ray Charles made his first record, by clicking here to read this Miami Herald article.  




Blues Bar at the National Hotel


THE NATIONAL HOTEL
It doesn't get any better than this original Art Deco hotel.  The elegant National Hotel immediately transports you to the 1930's with its tripartite exterior and Art Deco interior design and decor from the angular railings, nautical portholes, and streamline bar. A grand piano sits in front of the bar tucked around by seats and cocktail tables.  Live jazz music is performed Wednesday to Sunday evenings from the Blues Bar beginning at 8:30pm (in high season now through May). For summer and fall performances, please visit their website for new schedule. 

The National Hotel also hosts a weekly Sunday Brunch featuring live jazz music from 11am to 2pm ($50 per person).




Christine Michaels jazz music bar Art Deco 1930s National Hotel
Christine Michaels enjoys a Martini at the Blues Bar inside the National Hotel

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