Home TravelCape Town & South Africa Cool jazz venues in Cape Town by Allison Foat

Cool jazz venues in Cape Town by Allison Foat

by capetowndiva

Lee Thomson taken by me

The live jazz landscape in the Cape Town is smoking hot. In the absence of dedicated jazz clubs in the city centre, bars, back yards and halls are clearing space for jazz performance. On any given night you can catch a number of industry legends at play – musos like Rus Nerwich, Buddy Wells, Sibusiso Matsimela, Lee Thomson, Tefo Mahola and Jonno Sweetman – currently working the inner city circuit & surrounds. Whether it’s the standards, chaotically structured improv or mellow grooves you’re after, the gigs are soulish and world class, guaranteed to quicken your pulse and blow your hair back.


Madala Kunene from Durban

The Athletic Club and Social is one of the hippest gathering spots in the city, housed in a stunning 19th century double story on Buitengracht Street. The converted basement -The Trophy Room – is where jazz goes down every Thursday with Rus Nerwich and guest artists from SA, the continent and overseas. It’s unpretentiously posh, kitted out with linger-worthy leather banquettes and décor that throws back to the underground speakeasy era. Owner Athos Euripidou is behind the initiative and sessions pull a dedicated crowd.

🎷Entrance free / 35 Buitengracht Street, CBD / 0210125331 / info@theathletic.co.za


The Joe Kunnuji Quartet Pic by Paul van der Spuy through beer goggles

In a heritage building on Bree Street, Hank Olde Irish with its prohibition era vibe  doubles as a whisky bar and live music venue with jazz reserved for Tuesday nights. Hanks, together with Love Thy Neighbour next door are owned by restaurateur and club fundi Johnny Papadakis and line ups are sourced by Gavin Minter who is adept at securing some of the best local and international talent.

🎷Entrance free / Jazz from 20h30 / 110 Bree Street / https://www.hanks.co.za/


If the inaugural concert series featuring the brilliant Italian pianist Giovanni Guidi are anything to go by, The Ear is set to be another A list venue for jazz heads. Launched last month by the well-known South African saxophonist Rus Nerwich, the 30-seater bonsai performance space, equipped with a baby grand piano onstage, offers audiences an optimal, close range experience. “The Ear presents the best that artists have to offer in a place that places the listening experience first and is a platform for musicians to share their sound, song and stories”, says Rus.

🎷Unit 204 Side Street Studios, 48 Albert Rd, Woodstock / 076 5727272

/ https://www.facebook.com/TheEarCPT/


Monday through Saturday, The House of Machines (THoM) does live music and Wednesdays belong to jazz. Located between Loop and Long streets with blue chip neighbours like The Shortmarket Club, THoM is a solid international lifestyle brand with outlets in LA and Shanghai. The café-come-bar lures a diverse crowd (including Queen drummer Roger Taylor every now and then) with its easy menu, biker culture, craft beer and the best Old Fashioned in town. Musicians are booked by THoM’s Farryl Purkiss, a singer-songwriter and music legend in his own right. Enough said.

🎷Entrance free 84 Shortmarket Street, CBD / Jazz on Wednesdays from 21h00


Guga S’thebe Cultural Centre & Kwa Sec NY 138

Buddy Wells on sax with Reza Khota on guitar, Sibusiso Matsimela on bass and Tefo Mahola on drums

Langa township, ten minutes from town, is where you want to be on Sunday afternoons. Jazz in The Native Yards, run by Luvuyo Kakaza, hosts weekly sessions with the best in the biz, at Guga S’thebe Cultural Centre and Kwa Sec Ny 138 in Gugulethu. According to Kakaza, “there are no actual jazz clubs in Gugulethu, Langa or Khayeltisha, so we use houses and community halls to host jazz gigs.”

🎷Jazz from 16h00 / King Langalibalele Drive / Langa / https://www.facebook.com/nativeyards/ / 060 960 8935


A cool venue built around an old olive tree and long known as the gem of kloof Street. Asoka is the only venue that’s had  a regular jazz residency for over a decade gets a kick out of bringing people together over food, talked-about cocktails and live music. Jazz nights are organised by Jason Reolon, taking place on Tuesday and Sunday evenings from 8pm (the offering is food + jazz), with musicians like Lee Thomson and other top notch cats behind the brass. Asoka’s sister venue Kloof Street House also does Sunday jazz, from 1pm and 3pm.

🎷68 Kloof Street, Gardens / 0214220909


The Crypt inside St. George’s Cathedral on Wale Street welcomes top and emerging jazz talent and international artists. Aside from the dinner-jazz-theatre type vibe, you can relish the fact that you’re ensconced inside a building with impressive historical gravitas, being the oldest cathedral in Southern Africa known for its role in the apartheid resistance movement and it’s most famous and beloved Archbishop, Desmond Tutu.

🎷1 Wale Street, CBD  / 0216148731


The Jagger Lounge on Shortmarket Street is the newest live music destination on the block, opened last year by a trio of trusted industry stalwarts – Michael Vaughan (ex-Mars Music), Ard Matthews (Just Jinjer) and Andy Mac (Audio Adrenaline). “It’s a passion a project more than anything, born out of a mutual desire to see live music flourish in city on a regular basis” says Vaughan. Located down the drag from The House of Machines, TJL hosts album launches, talks, and, thanks to its next level acoustics and sound solutions, is able to present epic bands like Prime Circle.

Free entrance  / 74 Shortmarket  Street / mike@thejaggerlounge.com


Make lunch time in the ‘Burbs last longer with a jazz at Blanko at The Alphen. The recently re-imagined Constantia hotel does  family-centric jazz events every Sunday. Parents can kick back  while the kids get to have their own (supervised) Bazinga fun with face-painting, games and jumping castles.

Jazz from 13h30 – 15h00pm / https://www.alphen.co.za/the-sunday-jazz-club-at-blanko/ / 0217956300


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