Amidst all of the sweat, sound, bright lights and gyration, there is a special moment where time briefly stops. That’s New Orleans. Inside a dark club people spin, twist and jump around to the Dixieland sounds of the band on stage. Suddenly, in a split second, the night becomes a dream. That moment is a special time—and as soon as it happens, it’s gone. It’s back to the groove, back to the jive. The crowd’s passionate throes bend the sound and turn it into magic. Right now, this is the best place on earth. It is a New Orleans jazz club. And I’m not talking about sitting in a theatre or standing in the background watching the band play. I mean getting up there. That’s what it takes for the real thing. The real beauty of New Orleans jazz clubs happens up front where the music meets vibrant love.
Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse
Located inside the Royal Sonesta Hotel, this fantastic jazz club is home to legendary New Orleans trumpet player Irvin Mayfield. But don’t worry if you go on a day that he isn’t there: Other fabulous performers, such as Germain Bazzle or Gerald French, grace the venue with effortless class and fine New Orleans style.
The Davenport Lounge
From Wednesday to Saturday every week, you can see the talented Jeremy Davenport sing and play trumpet with his jazz band. This club is inside the Ritz-Carlton, so be sure to dress well. Dancing is encouraged, too, so don’t hesitate to get up and move your feet.
Polo Club Lounge
Inside the lavish Windsor Court Hotel, jazz plays on two floors. On Thursday and Friday, stay downstairs at the Cocktail Bar from 6-9 pm for Amanda Ducorbier and her jazz pianist. Then on Friday and Saturday, from 9-12, the very talented Robin Barnes plays upstairs at the Polo Club.
The Spotted Cat
This small Frenchman Street jazz club is the perfect old-style NOLA jazz joint. I have many fond memories of listening to great music here. They have live music every night, but are cash-only, so make sure to hit the ATM beforehand. Try and catch some of my favorite acts, such as Antoine Diel, Meschiya Lake and The Washboard Chaz Blues Trio.
If you’re looking for the big time, look no further than Blue Nile Music Club. Known as the one of the longest standing jazz clubs on Frenchmen Street, the Blue Nile regularly hosts such talented bands like Kermit Ruffins, Flow Tribe, and Big Sam’s Funky Nation.