Compared to most capital cities around the world, Buenos Aires does not have many jazz clubs, although the jazz music scene is thriving in smaller venues and cultural centres across the city. Everybody tends to have their own image of a jazz club, be it a sophisticated modern bar or a smoky dimly lit wooden hall and this list of five venues provides a variety of choices. It is worth noting that entry prices vary in all venues depending on the artist and therefore the agenda should be looked at for each venue before heading down if this is of concern.
When searching for a jazz club in Buenos Aires, most people will be directed towards this beautiful bar, located on the first floor of a street corner in Palermo. With only a plaque on the wall marking the entrance, it would be easy to miss were it not for the saxophone wails floating out of the window and through the trees down into the street below. Ascending the staircase and having passed the the small ticket counter, one walks into a long, dimly lit room, with a band playing at the far end, and a 13-metre bar stretching most of the way down. Tables and chairs line the wall with looming windows opening out onto the balconies above the trees outside.
Inspired by jazz bars in New York, Thelonius opened in 2002 but has rapidly become the most popular place to regularly come and listen to high quality jazz. An impressive array of international musicians are invited to play, while still offering the stage to talented local acts. Lit up by a hanging squid-like collection of bulbs and some backdrop christmas tree lights, the band can feel somewhat distant if one arrives late and cannot secure a seat nearby. This does nothing to deter people, however, who are happy to fill the staircase at the back leading up to a balcony. The early birds are able to occupy leather sofas which lie around the stage. A sophisticated cocktail menu is served by adept barmen, who keep a tab for the evening as opposed to charging for each drink. Thelonius offers high quality jazz to a mixed crowd of young, old, foreign and local.
Open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9.30pm onwards. Price varies according to artist. For more information, click here.
2. Jazz & Pop
The oldest jazz club in Buenos Aires, Jazz & Pop has been delighting locals since 1978. Originally located in San Telmo, the owners moved to San Nicolas, near Plaza Congreso, three years ago, although the new location retains a sense of having existed for many decades. Passing the easily visible sign outside, a staircase sweeps down into an underground hall filled with tables, chairs and photos of old jazz musicians with beaming smiles. Although maybe not noticed immediately, the roof is lined with opened umbrellas of all colours, which the owner claims assist with the acoustics.
The bar has a very homely feel to it, with table service and simple decorations and lighting. The regulars smile when the other jazz clubs of Buenos Aires are mentioned and say that this place is more informal than anywhere else. It certainly does not try to be modern and the charm of Jazz & Pop is its intimacy and friendliness. The tables are all within five metres of the band, which creates a strong connection to the music, as is noticed in the delighted faces of the listeners. Although international acts occasionally play, mainly the stage is taken by local musicians, of whom the greatest jazz musicians which Argentina has offered have at some time played in this venue. For those looking for a down to earth, dusty, genuine jazz club, Jazz & Pop is strongly advised.
Open every day of the week, from 9.30pm onwards. Price varies according to artist, between $15 and $40. For more information click here.
3. Boris Jazz Club
From old to new, with the recently opened Boris. The club, in the heart of Palermo Hollywood, caters for a well dressed crowd. The bar is lit in a modern style with black and blue being the predominant theme throughout. The venue is large, holding up to 200 people, although it still manages to retain an intimate feel.
Well-known artists, both Argentine and international, take to the stage. A decent food menu complements the cocktails available. Tickets are not cheap in this jazz club, but everyone enjoys the high quality music which is played, and the new venue has a modern sound system with great acoustics allowing for the recitals to be recorded live. The bouncers on the door and the neon lights calling from the street render Boris Jazz Club a traditional Palermo bar, but once inside, the jazz clearly defines it apart from most of its contemporaries.
Open Tuesday to Saturday, from 6pm, music from 10pm. Price varies greatly according to artist and seat, between $40 and $200. Click here for more information.
Alongside Thelonius, this jazz club is the most well known in Buenos Aires. Entering through a CD/DVD store, one may expect to come across a storage room with a stage in the corner, but this could not be further from the truth.
Pulsating with glamour and sophistication, Notorious is a high end jazz club. Elegantly dressed waiters and waitresses serve the 35 tables which somehow manage to fit into this small venue. Dimly lit, it would be easy to forget that it is a jazz club while eating the pre-show meal, which most people seem to do. Apparently an elegant restaurant, a small section is cordoned off for the musicians to play, although the chances are that they themselves are busy tucking into a plate of food before they take to the stage. Despite the restaurant feel to the venue and the slightly difficult seating arrangement, it is an enjoyable jazz club for those who would like to enjoy the cream of international jazz, for this is where it tends to be found when in town. Making reservations in advance or buying the ticket is highly advisable to ensure a good view in this classy joint.
Open every day of the week, from 9,30pm onwards. Price varies according to artist. Discounts are available with CD/DVD purchases in the shop. For more information, click here.
5. Café Vinilo
This suave bar can be found in the southern area of Palermo and stands out as the building with the best architecture of the block. Entering into a small lobby filled with plants, one can then pass into the picturesque bar although it is necessary to buy a ticket to proceed through to the venue.
A wide variety of music is played in this club, so it is important to check beforehand on the website to see if it will be a jazz night or not. The bar offers excellent food alongside the music, as well as art shows and much more. Relatively new, having only been around for two years, the bar is slightly harder to find than the traditional Palermo destination. For those who like to listen to jazz in an intimate setting, Café Vinilo is ideal. It is worth booking a ticket in advance, and if done so before the day of the show, there is a discount of $5. It is worth noting that even with a reservation, seats are filled in a first come first served basis, so one should still arrive early if a seat close to the performers is desired.
Open Monday to Sunday, with music from 9pm onwards. Price varies according to artist. For more information, click here.