Atlanta is the home to the Atlanta Jazz Festival, one of the country’s largest free jazz festivals. So, yes, we like jazz. There are places all around Atlanta that serve up jazz nice and cool, including restaurants, such as McKinnon’s Louisiane in Buckhead that has live music three days a week and Aprés Diem in Virginia-Highland (every Wednesday).
Elliott Street Deli and Pub, located in historic Castleberry Hill, is a friendly neighborhood pub that offers a variety of nightly events, including live music (lots of jazz). Pittypat’s Porch, right in the heart of downtown, features Graham Jackson Jr. tickling the ivories every night -- just like his father did years ago.
The Lumen Lounge in the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta is a lobby bar with a modern vibe and contemporary elegance. Enjoy signature cocktails and chill to live music Tuesdays through Saturdays featuring jazz, classical guitar and Peruvian flute from artists Cooper Tisdale, Matthew Miller, Johnna Jeong, Jean Pierre Verbist, Mathis and Mauricio Amaya.
In addition, there are a number of clubs where music – and jazz – tops the bills. Here are some of our favorite places to go and hear jazz in Atlanta.
- Apache Cafe is located downtown and attracts a diverse group of patrons who enjoy the intimate loft-style club that combines food, art and music. Come for the music and enjoy the Southwestern, Latin and Caribbean-inspired fare. While Apache Cafe books a diverse musical portfolio, it is heavy on jazz, such as Al Smith’s Jam Session.
- Blind Willie’s, in Virginia-Highland, is best known as a blues club, but you’ll find it has a large dose of jazz and roots music as well. Jazz lovers will appreciate its authentic feel, bar food (the gumbo is fantastic) and amazing music. It may not always be strictly jazz, but the spirit will move you.
- Cafe 290 is a legend in Atlanta’s jazz scene. Located in Sandy Springs, not only does it attract some of the best established and upcoming jazz acts, but it’s not uncommon to find a jazz-loving celebrity or two in the audience.
- Kat’s Cafe bills itself as a place where the “cultured and sophisticated mingle, wine and dine.” It is also a fantastic place to listen to live music and enjoy regular monthly events such as stand-up comedy, poetry/spoken word events, art shows and book signings. But music is key.
- Northside Tavern is one-of-a-kind. Located on Howell Mill Road, it has been voted one of the top 10 dive bars in the country – since 1972 – and offers live music seven days a week. Several bands, such as Uncle Sugar, Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck and the Breeze Kings, offer the best jazz and blues around.
- RedLight Cafe is the area’s favorite listening room for jazz, blues, folk, bluegrass, roots rock and everything in between (in fact, they throw comedy and burlesque into the mix as well). Located on the east side of Piedmont Park in Midtown’s Amsterdam Walk, the cafe’s intimate setting is perfect for enjoying the live show while nibbling on items such as warm Brie with fruit and bread, spinach and artichoke dip, and desserts.
- St. James Live is a Southside gem for those who love great jazz. The club has a monthly WCLK Jazz It UP concert series as well as a variety of acts on the weekend. But save the best for Sundays, as St. James presents Smooth Jazz Sundays with such acts as flautist Kim Scott, keyboardist James Lloyd from Pieces of A Dream and saxophonist Dean James. There is a well-rounded menu, serving everything from lamb chops, pan-seared white fish, wings and fish tacos to cheesecake.
- Who doesn’t love a juke joint? Well, Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint will connect you with music, food, drink and socializing the way we do it in the South. Located in the former Macy’s building downtown and across from the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta, Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint is the place to relax, enjoy live entertainment and exceptional cuisine. Among the performers that you’ll likely to hear are Jabari Grover, Matt Wauchhope, Milkshake Mayfield and the PR Experience. In addition to outstanding jazz, Sweet Georgia’s books some of the best R&B and blues singers and groups in the area.
- If you’re in the East Village, check out The Earl, the area’s place for music of all kinds, including jazz.
- Located in the historic Old Fourth Ward, Venkman’s is a restaurant, bar and live music venue where comfort food classics are paired nightly with an eclectic live music lineup. With a state-of-the-art sound system, the free shows feature performers ranging from local mainstays to national stars.
Journalist Mary Welch writes business and lifestyle stories for local and national publications.