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The Best Live Jazz Experiences Taking Place In Chicago And Where To See Them

By Elliot McGowan

The Best Live Jazz Experiences Taking Place In Chicago And Where To See Them

The show goes on.

Chicago is a city rich with musical diversity and unwavering love for music in all genres. On any given night of the week, you can find a bar or venue playing whatever kind of music you enjoy. From blues to house music, there are few cities that can boast to have such a broad range of music in the blood like Chicago can.

Some of the most iconic bars you’ll find throughout Chicago are dedicated to jazz performances. Some have been around since the Prohibition era and some are young new establishments with ideal acoustics. We’re coming close to the end of Jazz Appreciation Month but in a city like Chicago, jazz is something that is honored all year round. Here we’ve cherry-picked some of the best venues and events to experience live jazz in Chicago.

1. Live Candlelight Jazz Performances In Various Venues

A candlelight Jazz performance in Chicago

Witnessing live jazz is a magnetic experience as it is but Chicago’s candlelight performances offer a spectacle unlike any other. With candlelit concerts taking place across Chicago in some of the best outdoor and indoor venues the city has to offer, there are some truly magical evenings to be had.

Seasoned jazz fans and newcomers alike are invited to kick back and absorb the atmosphere as renowned jazz musicians inspire minds, bodies, and souls this season. Countless flickering candles illuminate the stage encircling performers as timeless masterpieces are played out before the audience, offering the chance to experience live jazz in a whole new light.

Below are some of the upcoming candlelight jazz events:

Where: Various venues around Chicago.

2. Live Jazz At Le Piano

Photo of Le Piano by Phillip Tawanchaya (Image taken pre-Covid-19)

Le Piano is a relatively new establishment to come to Chicago’s music scene but one that brings something unique to the Windy City.  In the middle of a Paris-inspired listening room with spectacularly high ceilings sits a magnificent grand piano. Here Chicago’s most talented pianists and jazz performers come to play providing guests with intimate and unforgettable jazz performances every week.

Le Piano is far from just a bar with a piano. You’ll find mind-blowing musical experiences merging dinner, drinks, and scintillating performances. Exclusive packages offer deals such as Immersive Live Jazz & Dinner for Two or Immersive Live Jazz & Cocktails. Dining and drinking as live music softly resonate around you in this cozy, elegant, and romantic venue makes for an incredibly memorable night.

Where: 6970 North Glenwood Avenue, Chicago

3. Live Jazz At The Grand Cabaret Speakeasy

Grand Cabaret Chicago

Hidden away inside West Loop’s PorkChop, Grand Cabaret is a speakeasy performance space providing a range of mysterious and musical experiences. Nights at Grand Cabaret are a throwback to prohibition-era Chicago when the jazz was hot, the burlesque hotter, and bootlegger booze was abundant. Reawakening the days when these secret venues were the most vintage and vivacious of places, you’ll soon forget all about the world outside as nights of jazz and jubilance take you on a musical odyssey.  Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, Grand Cabaret After Dark fuses live jazz renditions of classical and contemporary songs with a pre-fixe dinner and BYOB rules.

There will also be a special one-off performance by the experimental acid jazz saxophonist Edwin Daugherty. The Cool Jazz of Edwin Daugherty will take place on Thursday, April 29.

Where: 1132 W Grand Ave, Chicago

4. Live Jazz At Chicago’s Green Mill

The Green Mill Chicago

Talking of speakeasies, Chicago’s Green Mill was a notorious prohibition-era speakeasy run by “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, a known associate of Al Capone back in the day. The private booth that Al Capone would use to eyeball guests and observe both doors is still there and it’s been said it is also the oldest jazz club in America. Today, the Green Mill continues to play Jazz all night, seven nights a week and few Chicagoans would fail to recognize the glittering emerald green sign.

The calendar of live jazz events taking place every night at Green Mill can be found here.

Where: 4802 N. Broadway Ave, Chicago

5. Live Jazz At The Jazz Showcase

The Jazz Showcase Chicago

A list of jazz venues simply cannot go without mentioning South Loop’s The Jazz Showcase. Founded by Joe Segal in 1947, the iconic jazz hotspot is now operated by his son who meets and greets guests personally. Some of the greatest names in jazz have performed in the historic jazz club over the years. The Jazz Showcase continues to bring in top international and support homegrown jazz musicians in equal measure.

The calendar of live jazz events taking place weekly at The Jazz Showcase can be found here.

Where: 806 S. Plymouth Ct., Chicago

Andy’s Jazz Bar (Image taken pre-Covid-19)

Opened in the 1950s in River North, Andy’s Jazz Club started out as a small lounge where hordes of employees from Chicago’s newspaper industry would go for shots, beer, and pub grub. After changing hands in the mid-1970s traditional jazz promoter Penny Tyler and guitarist John Defauw proposed that Andy’s become a spot to showcase the city’s best jazz artists. It then swiftly began a transformation and evolved into one of the most iconic jazz hangouts in the city.

Today Andy’s Jazz Club is one of Chicago’s most esteemed jazz escapes and has likewise been passed through the family keeping the live jazz nights featuring local talent alive.

The calendar of live jazz events taking place weekly at Andy’s Jazz Club can be found here.

Where: 11 E. Hubbard St., Chicago

*There are several other venues and events that would certainly make it into this list, but some establishments are still closed and events postponed due to the global pandemic. We will update as these places begin to open up and things go back to normal.

[Featured image from Shutterstock]