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Best Jazz Clubs in New Orleans

The 10Best New Orleans jazz clubs for getting your groove on


Jazz is the beating heart of New Orleans, as important to this city's soul as a rich pot of gumbo, a second line parade and the charming architecture that defines neighborhoods like the French Quarter and the Marigny.  To listen to local musicians play authentic New Orleans jazz, you need to dive into neighborhoods beyond the Bourbon Street scene, although there are still a few must-visit clubs in the French Quarter. 

One of the best places to start is the Marigny, just up from where the Mississippi bends into its famous crescent, an original Creole neighborhood named for a 19th-century aristocrat and good-time-guy Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville. In the past decade or so, the Marigny has emerged as a mecca of nightclubs, bars and restaurants, most of which are frequented by a mix of both locals and tourists.   Here is arguably one of the best places in town to hear all kinds of live music, including straight-ahead jazz.  On any given evening, you can swing dance at Spotted Cat, hear brass at d.b.a. and  jazz at Snug Harbor.  There are clubs in the Treme, uptown on Oak Street, along St. Claude Avenue. All for your listening pleasure.


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Madame VIc's
Photo courtesy of Madame Vic's

This gorgeous Second Empire home on Elysian Fields was a crumbling mess when owner Scott Veazey stumbled upon it, a circa 1885 manse that he has restored to its former Victorian splendor. Opened in April 2021, the building features many of its original features including gorgeous wooden floors, high ceilings, large windows and a stylish bar design. There is live music five nights a week, Wednesday through Sunday, featuring local musicians playing all kinds of music, from jazz to folk and blues. A few of the regulars include Dr Redwine and the Grape Stompers, Matt Andrews and the Sheepshead Serenaders and Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue. There's no cover but tipping the musicians is a must - not just here but all over town. This is a real neighborhood place, the kind of spot where the owner knows most of the customers and everybody feels welcome.

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: This friendly club is an easy walk from the French Quarter.

Beth's expert tip: There are six en suite rooms upstairs if you want to be really close to the action, with a three night minimum on weekends.

Read more about Madame VIc's →


9
French Quarter
Fritzel's

Everyone "old and young, from far and near" feels welcome at this cozy German-style beer hall. Patrons, seated near the fireplace or on the patio, puff cigars, down their favorite imported beers or sip cocktails made with European schnapps. The club's live Dixieland jazz never disappoints with local luminaries onstage nightly, thanks to music director Kevin Clark, who is also a busy trumpet player around town. Fritzel's claims to be the city's oldest operating jazz club, a fixture on Bourbon Street since the 60s in a 19th-century building with great architectural bones. Although the atmosphere is lively, the audience comes to hear the music, not something too common along this stretch of Bourbon Street.

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: Fritzel's is a European-style beer hall featuring a very diverse selection of jazz bands.

Beth's expert tip: Come here for traditional New Orleans jazz - the only place to hear it smack dab on Bourbon Street.

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The Spotted Cat
Photo courtesy of New Orleans CVB

The Spotted Cat is always crowded, it's true, but if you like gypsy swing and traditional jazz, you'll fall in love with this Frenchmen Street sweet spot. Crowds always spill onto the sidewalks during festival times and game weekends, so expect to stand and even dance in place. Elbow room is usually at a premium. Drinks are cheap and there's never a cover charge. On any given night you may catch blues, jazz, Latin or a mix of genres, always energetic and danceable tunes. The space is intimate and the energy is contagious, so be ready for an experience. There's a one drink minimum per set.

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: The Spotted Cat is an iconic Frenchmen Street club known for swing dancing crowds and lively bands.

Beth's expert tip: Your best chance at getting in is either come 10-15 minutes early or during a set break, which usually happens at the top of the hour.

Read more about The Spotted Cat →


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if you love smoking cigars and adore A-list jazz, there's no better place in town than this relaxed Uptown music club. With performances by the likes of The Afrodiziac's Jazz, Joe Krown and John Fohl, Dos Jefe's wows music lovers with nightly shows that start in the 8:30-9 pm range. Although Orleans parish bans smoking at clubs and restaurants, cigar lovers get a pass here, which may be one of the last homages to the smoky jazz club scene. As long as the sweet, pungent scent of a good cigar is your jam, Dos Jefes fills the bill. The name means two bosses - and indeed this club serves two audiences very well - lovers of jazz and fine spirits and cigar smokers.

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: A solid calendar of music, heavy on locally powered jazz, makes this Uptown club a smokin' spot.

Beth's expert tip: Although the club doesn't have a kitchen there are regular pop ups to handle the late night munchies.

Read more about Dos Jefe's Uptown Cigar Bar →


6
French Quarter

Traditional jazz music emanates Wednesday through Sunday nights from the Palm Court Jazz Cafe on Decatur, not far from the French Market. The ambiance is classic and the house musicians, who most likely have been playing for decades, start at 8 pm. Although the Creole menu can be hit or miss, this place is ever-popular with locals and visitors alike, including families with kids. The crowd tends to be older, but the dance floor is rarely empty. The decor features exposed brick walls, tiled floors and a decadently attractive mahogany bar. This is the place banjo talent Danny Barker praised in his song "Palm Court Strut." The live music cover is a $10.

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: Palm Court offers traditional New Orleans jazz in a historic French Quarter setting.

Beth's expert tip: Food can be uneven, so your best bet is to grab drinks and maybe an app while the music plays.

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5
Riverbend
Maple Leaf
Photo courtesy of Maple Leaf

Pressed tin walls and a narrow dance floor are part of the charm of the Maple Leaf. Live bands play genres like Zydeco, rock, blues and funk showcasing the city's best talent. Unannounced sit-ins are not uncommon; Bruce Springsteen once dropped in to jam with The Iguanas and Jon Cleary's band was once joined by his frequent employer, Bonnie Raitt. Because the club is close to both Loyola and Tulane Universities, the Maple Leaf attracts a diverse crowd that includes college students, professors, tourists and hard-core music aficionados. The venue is also one of New Orleans' premier Spoken Word locations.

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: This Oak Street club is an iconic spot for all kinds of local music uptown.

Beth's expert tip: Mondays are legendary at this uptown hot spot, thanks to George Porter always being in the house for two shows.

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4
French Quarter
Jazz Playhouse
Photo courtesy of Trixie Minx Productions

Located inside the Royal Sonesta in the French Quarter, Jazz Playhouse offers local talent seven nights a week, no cover charge, in a swank, upscale setting. Some of the city's best jazz performers take the stage, including The James River Movement, Michael Watson's The Alchemy, Luther Kent and Glen David Andrews. A few others not to miss includes Germaine Bazzle, a soulful jazz singer and Gerald French and the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, a troupe that defines old school class and style. Every Friday night around midnight, a few of New Orleans' best burlesque performers from the city's top troupes also perform.

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: This classy club in the Royal Sonesta is one of the best venues on Bourbon Street for jazz.

Beth's expert tip: Come for the jazz, seven nights a week, and stay for the later night burlesque on weekends.

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Maison Bourbon Jazz Club

This stalwart spot is where many New Orleans musicians including Harry Connick, Jr. served their apprenticeships. Maison upholds the city's famous jazz and Dixieland tradition, one of the few clubs on Bourbon Street that can stake that claim. The balcony is a fine spot top for an overview of the action, and in the rear of the club is a quaint courtyard with a wrought-iron gate accessing the chill Bar @ 635, a great place for a cocktail. You'll hear local talent here, along with a range of jazz, from trad and brass-focused to more modern takes on the American art form.

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: This classy club offers live music in a snazzy New Orleans setting.

Beth's expert tip: You'll never pay a cover but there is a one drink per set minimum.

Read more about Maison Bourbon Jazz Club →


2
French Quarter
Preservation Hall
Photo courtesy of Paul Broussard

Just show up and expect to stand in line at this wonderful venue just off of Bourbon Street. But you can also order tickets online and go in at the front of the crowds, guaranteeing your party one of the hard bench seats in front of the band. Preservation Hall is an historic New Orleans tradition that spotlights talented local bandleaders and sidemen that draw an international crowd of music fans. The decor is basic and consists of benches and cushions. There is no food or drink allowed in the hall and crowds are usually standing room only. Bring the kids - this is one of the few places that welcome all ages.

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: Preservation Hall is internationally known as THE place to go for traditional New Orleans style jazz.

Beth's expert tip: Grab a drink before you get in line and plan to finish it before you go inside - there no beverages permitted in The Hall.

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Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro

You have two options at Snug Harbor, the jazz institution on Frenchmen Street in the Marigny. Sit at the bar or in the dining room and eat - the steaks and burgers are excellent -and you'll hear whoever is performing on live TV. Or pay the cover charge (it's always worth it) and head into the intimate little club called the "classiest jazz club in New Orleans" by The New York Times. Snug, which was frequently mentioned in reverential terms on the HBO series Treme, attracts a crowd of avid listeners, so if you ignore the band and chatter, expect to get shushed. If you can catch drummer Stanton Moore, all the better.

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: There's no better spot to catch the A-list of local jazz greats.

Beth's expert tip: Snug Harbor serves solid American fare, a great option to catch a bite before the show.

Read more about Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro →


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Meet Beth D'Addono

Beth D'Addono is a food and travel writer obsessed with flavor, exploring cultures, street music and the city of New Orleans.

Beth writes about New Orleans and other destinations for outlets...  More About Beth

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