Best Jazz Club - 2006
Upstairs at the Van Dyke
Although you can catch jazz at various locations around the city these days, there's only one place to hear consistently high-caliber jazz every night of the week. Upstairs at the Van Dyke, an institution since its birth along with the Van Dyke Café in 1994, continues to wow crowds with a well-rounded lineup of talented players who come from around the globe and span styles from samba to Southern roots. In addition to out-of-towners such as the legendary Slide Hampton, Eddie Henderson, Frank Wess, James Moody, and Randy Brecker, Upstairs features a rotating cast of regulars such as Sammy Figueroa and His Latin Jazz Explosion, Grammy-winning jazz violinist Federico Britos, and recent additions singers LeNard Rutledge and Beatriz Malnic. Don Wilner, former principal bassist for the Miami City Ballet and well-respected jazz man in his own right, runs the joint and sits in frequently. Wilner attributes the club's success to its "happy medium" of avant-garde and straight-ahead jazz, its location in the popular Van Dyke Café on heavily trafficked Lincoln Road, and the unfailing support of café owner Mark Soyka. Jazz aficionados can order from the café's full menu, with appetizers such as bruschetta, crabcakes, and quesadillas from $6.75 to $14; entrées such as fresh ravioli, poached salmon, and goat cheese pizza from $9.25 to $24.75; sandwiches; burgers; and a full bar. Unlike many live music venues in Miami, the cover charge is modest and there is no drink minimum. "Basically I think all we're trying to do is get the music paid for," Wilner says. Shows begin at 9:00 p.m., 10:30 p.m., and midnight. Sundays through Thursdays the cover is $6; it's $11 Fridays and Saturdays. Check the online calendar for upcoming shows and special events.