With its bustling nightlife, Melbourne offers a plethora of venues to check out a range of musicto get your toes tapping. While jazz music has changed and evolved since the glory days of the 1950s, it still retains its spontaneous nature, making its presence felt in the city’s lanes and alleyways.
With The Melbourne International Jazz Festival playing out June 4–13, the city will be home to even more music. Whether you’re a jazz aficionado or simply want to experience sounds of the improvised variety, there is an assortment of venues in Melbourne showcasing jazz.
Dedicated to the development of the genre as an art form, Bennetts Lane is an institution in Melbourne and sought out by local and international jazz musicians. The venue has been host to the talents of Prince, Maceo Parker, Kenny Kirkland, Wynton and Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Junior amongst countless others. Located off Lonsdale Street, it is easy to miss but inside, the dimly lit venue is home to some serious jazz-based music, from old-school swing to contemporary electronica. It provides a space for musicians to showcase their talents and for audiences to experience the ever-widening world of jazz.
Located in Goldie Place, stepping into The Paris Cat Jazz Club is like stepping back in time and falling into a Parisian brasserie. With chandeliers, candlelight, bare brick walls and shimmering drapery, the venue is inspired by the French jazz scene of 1930s. The sophisticated venue opened in 2006 and features a variety of international and local artists throughout the week.
Home to bebop, an improvised, fast paced style of jazz developed in the 1940s, is Uptown Jazz Cafe. The cafe is found amongst the bustle of Brunswick Street, Fitzroy and hosts the talents of various musicians. Deviating from the smooth, slick sounds of traditional jazz, Uptown showcases experimental and improvised sounds. Dedicated mainly to hosting local talents, the venue has also featured some international names like New York-based saxophonist George Garzone. Uptown Jazz Cafe is open from Wednesday to Saturday and offers a small menu of Japanese dishes.
Taking a step back from preconceived notions of jazz music is Make It Up Club, an avant-garde jazz program based at Brunswick Street’s Bar Open. Combining new and experimental sounds from a variety of genres, Make It Up Club sees local and international artists take the stage every Tuesday night. With a range of improvised sounds that span everything from acoustic to electronic jazz, Make It Up Club thrives on diversity and hopes to promote the Melbourne music scene locally and internationally.
The Melbourne Improvisers Collective was created in 2010 by Sam McAuliffe and Travis Woods. Featuring talented and accomplished local jazz musicians, the Collective sets a high standard and features some of the finest jazz in Melbourne. The Melbourne Improvisers Collective hosts performances at a variety of locations in the city, one of which is Gertrude’s Brown Couch, a warm and casually inviting venue on the fringes of the city.
Blue Diamond Club is a chic venue with an art deco inspired interior to add a touch of old world glamour. Located 15 floors up on Queen Street in the city, Blue Diamond offers stunning panoramic views. Enjoy some tapas and a cocktail while listening to some great music. A selection of bands play at Blue Diamond Club from Thursday to Saturday. From soul and funk to R&B grooves from the 50s and 60s, there are some serious sounds to move to.