A Field Guide to the Valley's Jazz Clubs

Part of The Lost Leaf's appeal is its cozy atmosphere.
Part of The Lost Leaf's appeal is its cozy atmosphere. The Lost Leaf

Despite not being on the scale of other hubs, the Valley has always had a solid jazz scene. Venues like The Nash, Char's Has the Blues, and The Rhythm Room have helped foster a scene that spans everything from ragtime and traditional to Latin and experimental jazz.

But those aren't the only places to spend a quiet evening enjoying some cocktails and great music. Here are six other venues helping perpetuate the Valley’s unique jazz offerings.

Sacred Grounds Jazz Coffeehouse

4425 North Granite Reef Road, Scottsdale

Forget any connotations of a jazz club as some swinging hot spot. Sacred Grounds has a more wholesome approach. For one, it's connected to the Scottsdale Congregational United Church of Christ, so rather than selling whiskey and wine, you're more likely to find desserts and fine tea. But this is still a great spot for local jazz every single Thursday, with an emphasis on the greater jazz community. Plus, there's no beating a $5 donation for attendance.

The Lost Leaf

914 North Fifth Street

The Lost Leaf has never been married to one musical genre in particular, so jazz remains a regular enough highlight of its events calendar, with a special emphasis on more experimental or left-of-center artists. What the venue lacks in consistency, it makes up for in serving as a special haven for both local, regional, and touring acts alike. That, plus its giant array of beers, means you're always bound for a good time.

click to enlarge Camila Meza performed for Lakeshore Music in September. - LAKESHORE MUSIC
Camila Meza performed for Lakeshore Music in September.
Lakeshore Music

Lakeshore Music at Tempe Center for the Arts

700 West Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe

It's without its own venue, but Lakeshore Music has a rich history in the Valley. In 2007, the series warmed up at the famed Monti’s La Casa Vieja under the banner of Jam'n Jazz. In the years since, Lakeshore has become a powerhouse of a jazz concert series, running its 100th show back in April 2018. Each season runs September through May, hosting monthly shows of everything from hot club and Latin to traditional and ragtime jazz. And you can't beat the actual lakeside views.

click to enlarge Get your jazz on at Southern Rail. - COURTESY OF SOUTHERN RAIL
Get your jazz on at Southern Rail.
Courtesy of Southern Rail

Jazz & Jambalaya at Southern Rail

300 West Camelback Road

There’s knowing your audience, and then there’s the biannual Jazz & Jambalaya series at Southern Rail. Taking advantage of perfect weather every spring (February through April) and fall (September through December), guests can enjoy ample cocktails and New Orleans-inspired comfort foods right on the patio. But the main course is always the music, with each weekly concert event featuring a different local/regional talent spanning the jazz spectrum. It’s not an everyday option, but then that’s what makes it all the more unique.

click to enlarge Jazz things up at MIM Music Theater - MIM
Jazz things up at MIM Music Theater

MIM Music Theater

4725 East Mayo Boulevard

As far as jazz-centric venues are concerned, the MIM Music Theater is distinctly one of a kind. Every month, the museum books a keen selection of jazz acts, with a steady mix of local performers and regular national and touring groups. But unlike other outlets in the Valley, fans can also take in the history of jazz, not to mention other essential musical genres and styles, with an educational jaunt around the exhibits. The power and heritage of jazz music really comes alive.

click to enlarge Kazimierz is ready to cater to your wine and whiskey needs. - KAZIMIERZ WINE & WHISKEY BAR
Kazimierz is ready to cater to your wine and whiskey needs.
Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar

Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar

7137 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale

Until October 2018, Kazimierz World Wine Bar had been a steady spot to drink a shiraz and catch some local jazz. And while the new Kazimierz now favors whiskey just as much as wine, jazz remains a regular staple of this low-key spot. The monthly calendar features a slew of genre-spanning acts, but given that legends Dennis Rowland and Diana Lee performed during January's reopening party, jazz remains essential to the Kazimierz brand. Whatever you're sipping, this lil' speakeasy provides great tunes.
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Chris Coplan has been a professional writer since the 2010s, having started his professional career at Consequence of Sound. Since then, he's also been published with TIME, Complex, and other outlets. He lives in Central Phoenix with his fiancee, a dumb but lovable dog, and two bossy cats.
Contact: Chris Coplan