Choosing the best jazz clubs in New Orleans can be tricky as the city is the heart of jazz in the American south yet not everybody seeks the same experience. You might want to let your hair down in a dive and save a few bucks. Or, you may prefer the swanky vibe of an upscale lounge. You can even experience world-class performances in beautiful concert halls.

    There's so much that New Orleans has to offer in terms of evening entertainment. Jazz joints old and new offer truly eye-opening experiences, and no trip to New Orleans is complete without one. Here are ideas on where to enjoy live jazz in New Orleans.

    1

    The Spotted Cat Music Club

    A jazz club for a social night out in New Orleans

    The Spotted Cat Music Club is a lively jazz club and how some think music clubs should be. A bartender serving classic cocktails and a band of 4 or 5 sat on chairs just a few feet away. There's no nonsense happening at the Spotted Cat, and that goes for the style of music on offer, too.

    This is a young person's hangout, so expect jazz and blues with slight funk and R&B bent. You will probably spend a lot more time here than you intend, but with drinks so reasonably priced, many often stick around well past midnight. You can find The Spotted Cat Music Club on New Orleans’ Frenchmen Street.

    Location: 623 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70117, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 2 pm to 2 am, Saturday–Sunday from noon to 2 am

    Phone: +1 504-943-3887

    Map

    photo by T.Tseng (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    B.B. King's Blues Club

    Half jazz club, half Southern restaurant

    B.B. King's Blues Club is an excellent nightlife and dining spot in the French Quarter neighbourhood of New Orlean. Picture a laidback music venue and throw in some ribs and cocktails, and you get the best in New Orleans dining and jazz rolled into one.

    Both the music and the food is Southern, so you can expect a whole bunch of comfort as you while the afternoon or evening away here. Don't hesitate to make your way down the cocktail list – the blues usually gets better the longer you stay.

    Location: 1104 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

    Open: Friday–Saturday from 11 am to midnight, Sunday–Thursday from 11 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 504-934-5464

    Map

    photo by Bjoertvedt (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    3

    Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro

    A live jazz spot where Ellis Marsalis played for 30 years

    Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro is a piece of modern jazz history, as it was where the late Ellis Marsalis held a 30-year residency playing the piano. The lineup continues to be curated by a family of living legends, so you know you're in for a musical treat.

    A great mix of intimate jazz and casual dining, Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro allows you to enjoy a great southern meal while listening to trained jazz artists converse in their own virtuosic way. Musicians usually come in formal wear with their charts in front of them, so dress to match their air of professionalism.

    Location: 626 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

    Open: Friday–Sunday from 4 pm to 8 pm (closed from Mondays to Thursdays)

    Phone: +1 504-949-0696

    Map

    photo by gnalnad / Dan Lang (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    4

    Preservation Hall

    Jazz as it should be in New Orleans

    Preservation Hall is true to its name in that it preserves a rich tradition in New Orleans. When you walk into the traditional building, you will immediately notice a lack of frills and even fewer chairs. Seating is only for the musicians, a group of masters who are here to keep something alive: Dixieland jazz.

    Preservation Hall is a venue that treats its art with the utmost respect, and that means that music is front and centre. This isn't a bar, and everyone sits around the band in a highly communal atmosphere. Expect to wait a long time outside before getting to sit in on a set – a small price to pay to witness living history.

    Location: 726 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

    Open: Daily from noon to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 504-522-2841

    Map

    photo by Phil Roeder (CC BY 2.0) modified

    5

    The Maison

    A house with 3 floors of music

    The Maison is a veritable house of music on Frenchman Street in New Orleans. Come in the afternoon and you'll find a band playing to the lunch crowd. But stop by in the evening and get ready to party. The venue has 3 floors, housing a restaurant, a bar and a medium-sized concert venue. That's a full day's worth of entertainment all in one place.

    Locals make up most of The Maison’s crowd in its concert venue, where there's plenty of room to dance or sit down with cocktails by the smaller stage. You can come here any day of the week and find some of the best live music in New Orleans.

    Location: 508 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

    Open: Monday from 4 pm to 3 am, Tuesday–Wednesday from 4 pm to 2 am, Thursday from 4 pm to 3 am, Friday from 1 pm to 4 am, Saturday from 1 pm to 3 am, Sunday from 10 am to 2 am

    Phone: +1 504-371-5543

    Map

    photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    6

    Blue Nile

    A dance floor plus live music

    The Blue Nile is a classic medium-sized unseated music venue with a bar on New Orleans’ Frenchmen Street. You won't need seats when you walk into this joint and hear what the band is playing. When you've got acts like the New Orleans Rhythm Devils, the Caesar Brothers Funk Box or DJ Black Pearl, all you'll want to do is get on your feet and start moving.

    These bands perform like they're playing for a crowded house, bringing the energy night after night. The Blue Nile is a place to dance the night away, and with a full bar, you won't have any trouble doing so.

    Location: 532 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

    Open: Tuesday from 8.30 pm to midnight, Wednesday from 8 pm to midnight, Thursday–Saturday from 7 pm to 3 am, Sunday from 7 pm to 1 am (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 504-766-6193

    Map

    photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    7

    Maple Leaf Bar

    A New Orleans dive bar for the young and reckless

    Maple Leaf Bar is a classic college-town music venue on Oak Street in New Orleans. It's got a modest stage and standing space for the crowd, while in the back is the bar area. You can stand up front and take in the tunes or chat in the back with some beers – that's what's great about these dives.

    Come on a Sunday and you'll be treated to shrimp on the table. They pour a huge stockpot of crawfish, potatoes, sausage, oysters and who knows what else directly onto a long table, and then people line up on both sides and just... have at it. It’s a Southern feast for the ears, eyes, and taste buds.

    Location: 8316 Oak St, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA

    Open: Daily from 3 pm to 3 am

    Phone: +1 504-866-9359

    Map

    photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    8

    The Jazz Playhouse

    Live jazz for a sophisticated crowd

    The Jazz Playhouse has a bit of luxury to it, what with it being the lobby for the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans. Take a seat at a table, pick from a selection of cocktails and appetizers and enjoy classy, black-tie jazz in a room covered in a sensual red.

    These talented musicians play jazz with a sophisticated bent. A dame with a smoky voice takes the stage, and you are transported back in time to the golden age of Southern jazz. Take a second White Russian – you'll want to stick around all night.

    Location: 300 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA

    Open: Friday–Saturday from 4 pm to 2 am, Sunday–Thursday from 4 pm to midnight

    Phone: +1 504-553-2299

    Map

    photo by Wikiboy2015 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    9

    Palm Court Jazz Café

    A jazz venue with traditional cuisine and character

    Palm Court Jazz Cafe serves up some of the best local flavours New Orleans has to offer, all in front of a group of incredibly talented musicians. In typical southern fashion, the atmosphere is jovial and social even though the tablecloths are white.

    You can expect to engage in banter with the musicians, hearkening back to the communal jazz played in its earliest days. Palm Court Jazz Cafe is traditional in every sense of the word and one of the places to hit if you want an authentically New Orleans experience.

    Location: 1204 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 7 pm to 11 pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

    Phone: +1 504-525-0200

    Map

    photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    10

    Fritzel's European Jazz Pub

    Jazz, up close and personal

    Fritzel's European Jazz Pub on Bourbon Street puts you within arm's reach of a bonafide jazz band. It's cramped and there's not much space for dancing, but once inside you’ll find that's alright. It’s one of the best jazz clubs in New Orleans for you to get up close and personal with a new band most nights of the week.

    That's the point of Fritzel's: getting closer to music and each other. And don't forget the drinks – the cover charge requires the purchase of at least one (quite strong) drink. Whether they've got the house band or a special act playing, Fritzel's provides an intimate experience full of colourful, uplifting music.

    Location: 733 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from noon to 2 am, Sunday from noon to midnight, Monday from 4 pm to midnight

    Phone: +1 504-586-4800

    Map

    photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    Benjamin Gorman | Contributing Writer

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