Although the Valley’s jazz scene is subtle, it’s also thriving. Proof? You could check out jazz music any night of the week, no matter what part of town you call home. That is, if you don’t mind putting in some mileage. Here’s a list of the best places for live jazz in and around Phoenix.
Sam Ash Music Store
4402 West Cactus Road
Every Sunday at Sam Ash from 3 to 5 p.m., musicians, singers, and spectators are welcome to join a jazz jam. If you don’t play or sing, but love watching an organic jam session unfold, chairs are available. But don’t be shy: There’s an incentive for participating: Anyone who joins gets a $10 gift card, and it doesn’t matter if you go every week.
St. Francis Restaurant
111 East Camelback Road
St. Francis has been on the foodie map since its conception, with a laundry list of awards and mentions. It’s also been seen on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and former executive chef Brian Archibald was on an episode of Beat Bobby Flay. On the first Sunday of each month, St. Francis features a jazz-paired brunch with the sounds of Dennis Rowland, Diana Lee, Paul Sherman, and Felix Sainz. The music starts around 11 a.m. or noon, and goes until about 2 p.m. and is year-round. Also, kids eat free.
The Lost Leaf
914 North Fifth Street
Every Monday, The Lost Leaf hosts one of four rotating jazz acts (one plays each month): Jiggle, Running from Bears, Jason and the Brownstones, and Sans Pagaie. If you’ve never been to The Lost Leaf, it’s an intimate bar/venue made from the insides of a small, retro house in downtown’s Roosevelt Row arts district — it’s a staple. Catch music from about 9 p.m. to midnight. If you’re into beer and wine, you’ll want to check out their menu, Go early for for their happy hour, which ends at 7 p.m.; you get $1 off anything that costs more than $4.
Malee’s Thai Bistro
7131 East Main Street, Scottsdale
Malee’s is a go-to for Thai food in Scottsdale, but they’ve also been a staple for jazz music in Old Town for about a decade. Catch rotating jazz acts from 6 to 9 p.m. every Monday. It's worth noting: Malee’s jazz nights take a hiatus during the summer, so if you’re venturing out toward the outer edges of Old Town’s busy season, it’s best to call before you go.
5749 North Seventh Street
If part of the reason you love jazz is because you have an affinity for retro styles, attitudes, and libations, this '60s-themed lounge will definitely appease you. The musical performers at The Womack change weekly, but you can expect to see acts like House of Stairs, Dan Lovelock Trio, and Andy Galore frequently. Music starts at about 8 p.m. and goes until 11 or 11:30 p.m. Happy hour is from 4 to 7 p.m.
DVine Bistro and Wine Bar
3990 South Alma School Road, #3, Chandler
Every Wednesday at DVine Bistro in Chandler, a wine tasting starts at 5:30 p.m. and jazz music follows at 6. The wine's free with the purchase of an entree and runs until the wine's gone (so get there early). Every week, the jazz duo Selwyn/Aebi performs. Fun fact: The singer is the owner’s wife.
110 East Roosevelt Street
The Nash is the name that comes to mind first for most people when they think of jazz spots in Phoenix. And for good reason: The downtown venue packs a full calendar of jazz-only acts for nearly every night of the week — except Mondays. The Nash also hosts workshops, music lessons, and jam sessions. Small wonder it’s been named a “Great Jazz Venue” for four consecutive years by Downbeat Magazine.
Michael’s at Park Central
3110 North Central Avenue, #140
Every Wednesday at Michael’s, Flight 407 gets you grooving through your midweek with Jazz on the Ave from 7 to 10 p.m., followed by DJ. Willie B. Drink specials are offered throughout the evening (call ahead for details), there’s no cover, and the dress code is relaxed. Doors open at 6 p.m.
El Dorado Bar
8708 East McDowell Road, Scottsdale
Wedged between Taco Tuesdays and Friday’s fish fry is El Dorado’s jazz night. The music starts at 7 p.m. and goes until 11 on Wednesdays. Heads up: You won’t find the jazz night on their website. So it’s best to call ahead if you want details on who’s playing, as the lineup rotates.
4949 East Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale
From MBar's Spanish decor, cozy lounge, and outdoor fire pits to its Andalusian-inspired menu of tapas, kicking cocktails, Spanish wines, and infused sangrias — this is a spot that’s definitely got some spice. But the Scottsdale hangout takes it up a level on the Scoville scale with an upbeat-style jazz night featuring rotating musicians like Joe Costello, Nicole Pesce, Todd Johnson, Mark DeCozio, Raul Yanez, and Mel Brown. Listen up from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
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7114 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale
Marcellino’s patrons seem to love live music almost as much as they love Italian food. This Scottsdale spot hosts live music every Thursday and Saturday night. Every other Thursday is Strictly Jazz Thursdays, showcasing the sounds of a handful of rotating locals. There's a pretty impressive lineup listed on the Marcellino website, along with an updated event calendar. The music starts at 6:30 p.m. and goes to about 9:30.
Gold Bar Espresso
3141 S. McClintock Drive, #6, Tempe
Yep, Tempe's Gold Bar Espresso has not one, but two nights each week dedicated to jazz. The coffee bar actually has a partnership with The Jazz Alliance, and music starts on both nights at 7:30 p.m., running until about 10. Fridays are also extra-shot day, where you can get an extra shot added to your drink for free.
The Lounge at Ziggy’s Il Posto
9832 North Seventh Street
The Lounge at Ziggy’s Il Posto Italian restaurant is a neighborhood family-owned spot with no frills, just good vibes. The Lounge hosts live music five nights weekly. Saturdays are jazz-only, with a rotating list of local performers playing starting at 7:30 p.m. Go early for happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version.