From underground clubs to weekly nights, if you’re looking for some live jazz music in Leeds, these are the very best venues you’ll find.
Leeds has one of the best jazz music scenes in the UK, with an abundance of quality venues for you to experience it live. See amazing local talent in cool city centre bars, attend regular jazz nights where you can even join in for a jam or catch international superstars who come to the city for huge gigs. If you love jazz music, Leeds is your oyster…
One of the standout jazz clubs in Leeds, Chapel Allerton’s Seven Arts was named as 2016 Venue of the Year in the Parliamentary Jazz Awards. JazzLeeds, formerly Seven Jazz, puts together its live music programme and it hosts weekly shows every Sunday afternoon featuring a range of local and northern jazz musicians. On Thursday evenings, the venue puts on evening concerts from national and international artists as well as a jazz choir, Big Band and workshops. Keep an eye out too for Seven Jazz Introduces, which showcases emerging talent, and festivals they’re putting on in the city centre and Chapel Allerton.
Seven Arts, 31a Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 3PD.
The Domino Club
The Domino Club is one of the most exciting venues in Leeds for jazz fans. This underground drinking den is a throwback to the 1920s and 1930s – head into Lords Barbering and down the back staircase, where the bar awaits. They have live bands playing jazz, blues, soul and funk music from Thursday through to Sunday, with the likes of Shyfinger, The Tailored Trio and Lexys Reid taking to the stage. Grab one of their cocktails and make a night of it – it’s free entry after all.
The Domino Club, 7 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
The Leeds Jazz Club
The Leeds Jazz Club is incredibly straightforward – it takes place at 8pm every Tuesday at the Armley Conservative Club, offering a night of live music. They have different bands throughout the year, with some guest performances from students at Leeds College of Music, so it always stays fresh, covering genres like trad, dixieland, swing and smooth. It’s the perfect excuse to put your dancing shoes on for a night of jives and lindy hops.
The Leeds Jazz Club, Armley Conservative Club, Theaker Lane, Armley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS12 3NU.
Ease into the weekend with a spot of Friday night jazz at Cafe Lento. This little-known eatery was named best small jazz venue in Yorkshire back in 2012 – and they’ve maintained their reputation for putting on a great show. A laid back cafe by day, expect a full house come Friday when they put on a night of free live music. In the past they’ve had some seriously big names on the line-up including the Tom Neale Quartet, Rodina and Tarantismo.
Cafe Lento, 21A North Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3HW.
Alongside blues, funk and soul, Sela Bar loves its jazz. In fact, they have a few nights dedicated to it. The Tuesday Big Band Jam takes place every week, with a big band rhythm section on stage alongside guest players from around Leeds – if you’re brave enough you can get up and join in. Their other jazz night, The Cooler, is more disparate, so keep an eye out for their listings. Whichever you choose, sit back and relax with Sela’s renowned beers, cocktails and pizzas.
Sela Bar, 20 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
On the third Monday of every month, you can feed your improvisational jazz cravings at Wharf Chambers. Sproggits provides a space for left-field music to take the reins, with improvisation and echtzeitmusik at its core. It’s here you’ll find the stranger side of jazz, having welcomed the likes of Schnellertollermeier, Jonathan Kreisberg Quartet and AfuriKo in the past. It is a members club though, so make sure you sign-up before you visit. Once you have, most of the gigs are free.
Wharf Chambers, 23-25 Wharf Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EQ.
The other Chapel Allerton venue used by Seven Jazz Leeds is The Inkwell arts centre. Smaller than Seven Arts, it’s still immensely popular. On the first Saturday of every month, they host Inkwell Divas, with local jazz musicians playing classic American standards in their main gallery space. They also host the fortnightly Sunday Jazz Cafe club, which features some of the best talents from all over the UK.
The Inkwell, 31 Potternewton Lane, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 3LW.
Salvo’s love jazz – in fact, Gip Dammone is a renowned player himself, and they do their best to combine their famous Italian food with the best jazz tunes whenever they can. They regularly host Sunday Jazz Supper at the Leeds restaurant, though it’s never on a set date. It welcomes the likes of Rhythm Aire and Rev Cleve & Friends to take to the stage playing classic chilled jazz tunes, while you tuck into to some cracking grub.
Salvo’s, 111-115 Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3PX.
LS6 Cafe is a popular haunt in student-centric Hyde Park, but it gets a little more sophisticated every Wednesday night with the longest-running jazz night in Leeds. Each week, organiser Ben Powling puts together an exciting array of local jazz talent for an evening of great music. It’s free entry, and they have an exceptional selection of craft beers and spirits behind the bar to help you make a night of it – try the cocktails, they’re perfect with a spot of jazz.
LS6 Clock Cafe, 16 Headingley Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2AS.
Everyone knows about The Wardrobe’s downstairs gig and club venue, but did you know that their upstairs space in the main bar is often home to jazz? You can take advantage of their quality line up of beers and cocktails in the modern, airy venue while bopping along to a few jazz classics – it’s not on all the time, however, so keep an eye on their listings.
The Wardrobe, 6 St Peter’s Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 8AH.
Howard Assembly Room
Howard Assembly Room is part of the same building as Leeds Grand Theatre, but rather than plays, operas and musicals, its focus is music. They put on an eclectic array of genres, from world music to classical numbers and operas, but did you know it also attracts some of the biggest names in jazz music from time-to-time? Keep an eye on its listings, with the likes of Robert Glasper, Ravi Coltrane and René Marie all visiting in the past.
Howard Assembly Room, 46 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
Leeds College of Music
One of the best-regarded music institutions in the country, Leeds College of Music also has multiple performance spaces, where they host a huge breadth of live concerts. They have a jazz course on their books, so they regularly have gigs by their students, as well as regular jam night, B-Side. They also manage to attract a number of national and international artists to the city to perform in their biggest space, The Venue.
Leeds College of Music, 3 Quarry Hill, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PD.
It’s all about Sunday nights down at Wapentake. Every two weeks organiser Nic Svarc brings a different jazz band to play upstairs in this Yorkshire-loving bar. In the past they’ve welcomed the likes of James Mainwaring and Ben Lowman to play, but that’s not all you have to look forward to. If you’ve got musical skills to show off, they also host a jam session right after, so bring your instruments, treat yourself to one of their local ales and get involved.
Wapentake, 92 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DJ.
HEART open their space to up and coming jazz artists, giving them a platform to show their work in front of a bigger audience every month for Jazz at Heart in The Shire Oak Room. They also welcome big name musicians for ticketed shows, like Ingrid Jenson, Sam Watts, Dominic Marshall and Matt Anderson. The Jazz Jam sessions on the first Friday of every month are a riot too, with a house band from Leeds College of Music, which you’re welcome to sit back and enjoy, or even join in.
HEART, Bennett Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3HN.
The Head of Steam
Chances are you’ll be more familiar with the beer at The Head of Steam than the gigs, but live music is very much at the heart of what they do. Their weekly Gin and Jazz night takes on Sundays, led by Brendan Duffy’s Jazz Collective, and features a different guest vocalist every week. They play through some classic tunes, while you enjoy their Hendrick’s gin cocktails served in their own teapots.
The Head of Steam, 12 Mill Hill, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5DQ.
The Grove Inn
Get down to Holbeck on the third Sunday of every month for The Grove New Jazz Sessions, an event that’s a must for jazz fans. The Grove Inn is one of Leeds’ little known old school pubs, hidden away behind Bridgewater Place. Local jazz group Abtuse Sextet, who started out at a Seven Jazz workshop, put on their very own night every month, with special guests from around Leeds and beyond visiting each time.
The Grove Inn, Back Row, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5PL.
Hyde Park Book Club
Every Thursday night, Hyde Park Book Club transforms into the Hyde Park Jazz Club. It’s a weekly showcase of the best in jazz and jazz-related music from local and countrywide artists. They’ve had some incredible guests turn up in the past, from Axis Point to Jean Watson, the Jack Garside Trio and Treppenwitz. Every gig is followed by a jam session and entry is always free.
Hyde Park Book Club, 27-29 Headingley Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1BL.
Head across the river on Thursday nights for Cha Lounge’s special jazz and curry night. Every week, from 6.30pm until midnight, they have a live three-piece band playing live jazz tunes to get your toes tapping. You can watch while tucking into an exciting selection of curries, each of which is made from scratch using recipes that have been handed down through the generations. Wash it all down with beer from Northern Monk and an array of organic wines. Be warned, however, they sometimes they mix their events up, so it might not be every Thursday.
Cha Lounge, 24-26 Dock Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1JF.Feature image copyright Alden Chadwick.