Miami's Nine Best Jazz Nights

Most people think of New Orleans or New York when they think of American jazz, but Miami also has its share of hot spots where listeners can catch local and international artists playing skat, hard bop, mainstream, fusion, and Latin jazz.

The Magic City's oddly large jazz community is partly owed to the outpouring of students and graduates from the University of Miami's Frost School of Music. But it seems whatever part of town you prefer to frequent, there's a spot where you can hear horns blaring, pianos boogying, and upright basses being plucked. Some venues even devote entire nights to jazz, and here are Miami's best.

Giacomo Gates performs at Ball & Chain.
Giacomo Gates performs at Ball & Chain.
Courtesy of Trinity Group PR

1. Ball & Chain. The renovated Little Havana landmark generally has a live jazz set Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night from 6 to 8:30 and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m. The Calle Ocho club was dubbed one of the best live music venues in Miami, and is the ultimate spot for catching live jazz. Music lovers looking to save a buck, look no further: Admission is free. 6 to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at 1513 SW Eighth St., Miami; 305-643-7820; ballandchainmiami.com. Admission is free.

A crowd gathers outside Churchill's.
A crowd gathers outside Churchill's.
Photo by Alexander Oliva

2. Churchill's Pub. Since the year 2000, Monday night at Churchill's has belonged to the Miami Jazz Jam. Around 9 p.m., the city's jazz aficionados gather in the pub's indoor stage to bebop. If you're looking to participate, Monday night on the outside stage hosts Theatre de Underground, an open mike presenting poets, musicians, storytellers, jugglers, and comedians, as well as aspiring jazz players. 9 p.m. Monday at 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com. Cover is $5 for 21+ and $10 for ages 18 to 21.

The Corner.EXPAND
The Corner.
Photo by Karli Evans

3. The Corner. Tuesday night's Downtown Jazz at the Corner was named by this publication as Miami's best jazz night a couple of years ago. You can generally expect the bands to begin the first of their two sets around 10 p.m. One of the more interesting nights in the past has featured a three-piece known as Vector that played jazz interpretations of indie-rock bands such as Blonde Redhead and Fleet Foxes. 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Tuesday at 1035 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-961-7887; thecornermiami.com. Admission is free.

Grab a glass at Lagniappe.
Grab a glass at Lagniappe.
Photo by Adriana Castillo

4. Lagniappe House. The charming midtown hangout Lagniappe describes itself as a New Orleans-style wine house and jazz bar. Live music begins every night at 9 and includes a heavy rotation of local jazz peppered in throughout the week, so be sure to check the site’s music schedule. Every Sunday night, catch Rodolfo Zuniga, the resident musical director at the Globe (whose jazz night also made this list), with the Rodolfo Zuniga Trio, whose sound is described on Lagniappe’s site as varying from “contemporary original compositions to traditional jazz trio repertoire weaving in and out of a highly interactive and energetic improvisations.” Live music daily at 9 p.m. at 3425 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-576-0108; lagniappehouse.com. Admission is free.

Head to downtown Miami for live jazz.
Head to downtown Miami for live jazz.

5. Le Chat Noir. This wine, cheese, and live-jazz venue provides a slice of the French Quarter in downtown Miami. Le Chat Noir's website event page advertises "live jazz all the week," and that includes music Tuesday through Thursday beginning at 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday night at 10. For a date night on the town, consider taking your boo to one of Miami’s most romantic spots to catch live music. 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday at 2 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-377-8899; lechatnoirdesalis.com. Admission costs $10 Friday and Saturday night.

Rodolfo Zuniga is the Globe's musical director.
Rodolfo Zuniga is the Globe's musical director.
Photo courtesy of the Globe

6. The Globe. This Coral Gables restaurant offers Saturday-night jazz from 8 p.m. to midnight. Past players have included the John Yarling Trio, John Hart & Gary Campbell, the Osvaldo Vargas Trio, Roxana Amex, and Felipe Lamoglia. The Globe charges a $7 cover, but there is no food or drink minimum. 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday at 377 Alhambra Circle, Coral Gables; 305-445-3555; theglobecafe.com. Admission costs $7.

Grab a seat near the front.EXPAND
Grab a seat near the front.
Photo by Jessica Gibbs

7. Soyka. While the rest of Miami is waiting in long lines at mediocre clubs, you can hang with some of Miami’s finest musicians every Friday and Saturday from 9 p.m. till midnight. The superstylish MiMo District restaurant Soyka, located on NE Fourth Court, is a low-key spot and a sophisticated reprieve from Miami's typical weekend antics. The dimly lit room seems to appeal to a more mature crowd for its special jazz nights. For the best views of the show, grab a wicker chair near the front. 9 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday at 5556 NE Fourth Ct., Miami; 305-759-3117; soykarestaurant.com. Admission is free.

De-stress with live jazz at the Wynwood Yard every Wednesday night.EXPAND
De-stress with live jazz at the Wynwood Yard every Wednesday night.
Photo by Jessica Gibbs

8. The Wynwood Yard. The family-friendly series Jazz at the Yard, curated by Chad Bernstein of Guitars Over Guns, offers a quintessential Miami experience. For some easy listening with a side of balmy breezes, grab a table on the green and take in Miami’s beauty under the stars Wednesday nights from 8 to 11. Order a glass of wine and unwind from the grind at one of Miami’s best outdoor music venues8 to 11 p.m. Wednesday at 56 NW 29th St., Miami; 305-351-0366; thewynwoodyard.com. Admission is free.

Grab the blue velvet couch near the performers.EXPAND
Grab the blue velvet couch near the performers.
Photo by Jessica Gibbs

9. Soya & Pomodoro. Thursdays and Fridays, live jazz can be heard echoing through the desolate streets of downtown Miami after dark thanks to this hidden gem. To catch the jazz, bypass the tables out front and head straight inside. Every spot in the house affords a view of the show, so take a seat. The restaurant’s intimate and romantic ambiance — with clothes hanging on a line and other design touches reminiscent of an Italian neighborhood — makes for a perfect date night. Though admission is free, a $4 music fee will be tacked on to the bill. 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday at 120 NE First St., Miami; 305-381-9511; soyaepomodoro.com. Admission is free, but a $4 music fee will be added to your bill.

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