Where To Listen To Jazz In LASorry Ryan Gosling, LA's jazz scene is far from dead.
From John Coltrane’s performance at Royce Hall to the legendary Central Avenue, LA’s jazz history runs deep. And while certain La La Land characters may love to lament over the supposed “death” of the genre, there are still plenty of places to catch shows, snap your fingers, and try desperately to get called a “cat” by someone older and cooler than you. Here are our favorite jazz clubs in Los Angeles.
THE JAZZ SPOTS
Opened by the legendary American trumpet player, Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill is anything but low-key. As soon as you enter the Bel-Air spot (from the parking lot filled with Aston Martins and Porsches), you’ll be greeted by a glittering ballroom and a live jazz band upfront. People will be wearing suits, jackets, and dresses they likely found in the “evening wear” section at Neiman Marcus. For a place so focused on music, the food is honestly not bad. Everything, from the ahi tuna tacos, to calamari, to the complimentary ice cream scoop they’ll give on birthdays, tastes perfectly acceptable. Sometimes even good. Be prepared to spend money and have fun.
The Baked Potato’s concept is simple: Only play jazz, only eat baked potatoes. That’s it. Open in Studio City since 1970, this underground jazz club is an all-ages affair, a place where you’ll find couples on dates, dudes who have been coming here for over 50 years, and high schoolers getting their minds blown by the power of musical improvisation. There are 24 baked potatoes on the menu (ranging from melted cheese, to maple ham, to teriyaki chicken) and tickets are bought either online or at the door. Ask around, and it seems like everyone cool has been here—your best friend’s mom, the nicest of your boyfriend’s uncles, and now, you.
The food at Pip’s is pretty good—think racks of lamb, Creole fettuccine, and a veggie pizza that sits proudly on a tall metal stand—but let’s be real. You’re here for jazz. A Mid-City staple since 2010, Pip’s has become a total neighborhood hang—a fun, casual place where you can come on any random Tuesday and be serenaded by the sound of trumpets, bass players, and guitarists with deep, sultry voices. There are friends celebrating birthdays here, older gentlemen dressed in well-tailored suits, and first-timers who’ve just spilled in off the street. Everyone’s just here to have a good time, and reservations are required.
Catalina is often referred to as a member of the “Holy Trinity of Hollywood Jazz Clubs” (along with The Baked Potato and Herb Albert’s), and it’s not difficult to see why. Stumble into this iconic Sunset Blvd. club any night of the week, and there’s a decent shot you’ll catch one of the best jazz musicians in the country doing a live set. Despite being located underneath a nondescript office building, the acoustics in the room are fantastic and the intimate space means there really isn’t a bad room in the house. Reservations are recommended for big acts, and if you show up hungry, there’s a large menu filled with salads, pastas, and big plates of meat.
Sam First is a piano bar in Hawthorne where you might catch a live album recording on a random Friday night. Right around the corner from LAX, this jazz spot hosts weekly shows with big names in the jazz world like Christopher Mcbride and the LA Jazz Quartet. It’s the kind of swanky spot where you can recline on a leather bench with a Negroni in-hand, snack on charcuterie, and get cozy with a hot date. On most nights, you’ll need a ticket to enjoy the show. But even if you forget to book ahead of time, they’re usually selling spots at the door.
Industry Cafe, an Ethiopian restaurant in Culver City, often hosts live jazz performances, spoken-word poetry slams, and open mic nights. There’s a small, string-lit front patio that’s ideal for a classically-romantic night out, but the cozy dining room is where you’ll get a front row seat to all the action on stage. While you’re here, you can order things like beef tips, doro wot, collard greens, or a platter of all three on a bed of soft injera. Make sure to follow Industry Cafe on Instagram for the latest on upcoming events.
True to its name, The Living Room doesn’t have much space—more of a corridor than an actual room, this Mid City jazz club hosts blues jams, vocalists, and pop-up barbershop quartets. It’s a super casual bar in South LA where you can walk in on a random weekday, grab a couple of beers, and watch as regulars go up and grab the microphone with the confidence of Etta James in 1989.