The Best Cities For Jazz Listeners & Musicians

We at JAS area always looking for the best jazz cities & spots. Although we find Aspen to be at the top of our list, there are so many other cities across the world where one can find themselves lost in the music. Though their ranking may vary, below are the most frequently recommended destinations for your next jazz experience.

New Orleans

Jazz wasn’t just born in New Orleans – it grew up there and the city continues to have one of the most rich and historic jazz scenes in the world. Every night of the week the streets and clubs of the Big Easy come to life with “America’s original art form,” from the French Quarter to Marigny, Treme to St. Claude Avenue, there is always something new and exciting to enjoy.


Havana, Cuba takes soul into their own hands with their unique Afro-Cuban Jazz sounds. As you stroll the cobblestone streets, peak your head through colonial courtyards or dine in the plazas, the sound of trumpets and Spanish guitars is omnipresent. Havana’s many jazz clubs are incredibly vibrant with promises to engage and entertain for many hours into the night.

New York City

New York City has played a big role in the world of jazz, most notably with Billie Holiday starting out at Bill’s Place in Harlem. The city features numerous world-renowned clubs like the Blue Note in Greenwich Village, the Village Vanguard in West Village and Birdland in Hell’s Kitchen, and the amazing Jazz at Lincoln Center where some of the best players in the business perform, including their fame artistic director Wynton Marsalis.


The jazz scene in Paris is thriving with jazz bars scattered throughout the city hosting some of the biggest names in the genre today. Paris also embraces modern and avant-garde jazz sounds, allowing guests the opportunity to hear music they may not experience anywhere else. In fact, the French government literally supports these artists through a program topping off their yearly income so they can survive playing small gigs.


Montreal’s jazz scene began in the 1920’s during Prohibition. Being on of the few places where you could buy alcohol legally, jazz clubs became a popular destination for musicians and fans. The city has maintained that vibrant scene for nearly 100 years with numerous clubs and one of the world’s most famous events the Montreal International Jazz Festival.

Cape Town

The annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival held every March is one of the largest jazz festivals in the world. Apart from the festival, Cape Town is home to many famous jazz clubs and restaurants including The Piano Bar, Asoka, and West End Jazz Club.


Amsterdam has a very rich jazz culture, hosting weekly Jazz concerts and offering a wide variety of live jazz in bars and cafes nightly. It is also a stop for the North Sea Jazz Festival which brings well-known musicians to multiple Dutch cities.


Starting the first Friday in July, the 10-day Copenhagen Jazz Festival hosts an estimated 1300 concerts across 120 venues. The performances run all day until the late hours and include internationally-renown jazz performers, local up and comers and everything in between. When the festival isn’t in town count on numerous clubs around the city to keep the jazz playing.


Jazz music is inarguably becoming a huge deal in Indonesia with Jakarta putting Asia on the map for the best places to listen to live Jazz. The Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival is arguably the largest Jazz festival in the southern hemisphere featuring over 1400 artists in over 100 shows with crowds of over 47,000 in attendance.

Kansas City

Kansas City is world renowned for its rich jazz and blues legacy with over 40 area nightclubs featuring jazz on a regular basis. Kansas City is also the home to the American Jazz Museum, offering permanent and rotating exhibits, as well as hosted concerts through the year.

Don’t Forget About Aspen!

Aspen, Colorado is home to Jazz at Aspen-Snowmass and hosts some of the most talented jazz performers in the world. JAS has grown from a small three day event in Aspen to a set of multi-day festivals in Aspen, Colorado. They also offer diverse year round music education programs and a full-scholarship summer Academy for rising jazz musicians through JAS Academy.