Perth jazz lovers, April is the time to tune in with friends around the world for Jazz Appreciation Month. Known as JAM, it began as a festival in the birthplace of jazz, the USA, to celebrate the genre's history and variety.
In Perth, live jazz gigs are playing all year round. As well as dedicated jazz bars and clubs around Perth, a number of bars and pubs in Fremantle and Perth put on live jazz gigs at various times. We're also blessed to have the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra and ensembles at the WA Academy of Performing Arts performing top class jazz at a range of venues.
In honour of JAM, this guide brings together ten tips for where to find live jazz in Perth.
At the Ellington Jazz Club in Perth's nightlife hub of Northbridge, you can listen to live jazz every night of the week from a variety of established and emerging musicians. This is more of a performance venue than a typical jazz club, so you'll be expected to sit quietly during sets. It's also a key venue for the Perth International Jazz Festival, held every year in November.
Not to be missed in April is Eva Scolaro, performing songs from the Ladies of Jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Billie Holiday. Eva is at the Ellington on one night only for what is expected to be a sell-out gig.
This small venue charges admission and has a mix of table and bar seating. Reserve your table ahead of time or take pot luck at the bar. Then relax over a drink and a tasty share plate or pizza.
The Jazz Cellar
The quirky Jazz Cellar is a favourite Perth jazz club for fans of foot-tapping, old-time jazz and swing from the '20s and '30s, played by the Corner House Jazz Band. Think Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and The Cotton Club.
Tucked away in a Mount Hawthorn backstreet, look for the red phone box. In you go, and down the hidden stairs into a lively vintage jazz haunt. You'll need to book at least two weeks' ahead, as this popular underground venue is only open on Friday nights.
BYO food and drinks, or order in a pizza.
The Laneway Lounge
The gorgeous Laneway Lounge recreates the bygone era of early American jazz bars here in Perth, achieving a totally relaxed vibe. Wednesday night is jazz night, featuring top local musicians like Libby Hammer and John Bannister.
This is a relatively large venue, where you can sit close to the music, tuck yourselves into a comfy corner of the lounge, or grab a private booth. Choose from a full food and drinks menu, including delicious cocktails, and enjoy full table service.
The Laneway Lounge, on Murray Street in Perth, is open Tuesday to Saturday from late afternoon until midnight, or 1.00am on Fridays and Saturdays.
The Perth jazz scene is lucky to have some incredibly talented young performers studying and teaching at the WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).
Among the musicians are various jazz and contemporary ensembles, putting on free performances throughout the year at venues on the Mount Lawley campus. Even the jazz teachers get together for a gig once in a while!
Spiegel Jazz is a series of free gigs at the Edith Spiegeltent. Don't miss the Mingus Ensemble on 30 April - a group that pays tribute to jazz great Charles Mingus. Grindhouse Grooves are free jazz and contemporary music performances in the Grindhouse Cafe, and Box Beats presents jazz and contemporary gigs by staff and students at the Music Box.
The WA Youth Jazz Orchestra (WAYJO) gathers the top jazz musicians in the state aged 14 to 25. Members go on to become professional jazz performers in Perth and overseas. Keep an eye on the WAYJO website to see what they're up to and where to hear them live.
On 23 May WAYJO will perform with musicians from the WA Academy of Performing Arts. WAAPA Jazz Young Artists Ensemble is a free event in the Edith Spiegeltent on the Mount Lawley Campus.
Jazz at The Maj
This series of jazz concerts at Perth's heritage theatre is presented by WAYJO and features special guests musicians. This year, trombonist Mariel Bildsten and saxophonist Dick Oatts will travel from New York to join the big band for four key concerts.
Coming up on 3 and 4 May is Dixieland Stomp: New Orleans Jazz featuring Mariel Bildsten, a tribute to the birthplace of jazz. And on 2-3 August is the unmissable New York Jazz featuring Dick Oatts.
Find these gigs in Downstairs at the Maj, the fabulous basement venue under His Majesty's Theatre, chosen for its ambience to host several events during the Perth International Jazz Festival.
Jazz for Juniors
During the school holidays, WAYJO invites families with little ones to get into jazz with Perth's young performers. As well as playing pieces children will enjoy, the musicians introduce their instruments and let the kids have a go on child-sized versions.
Dates for 2019 are 16-17 April, 9-10 July and 1-2 October.
Jazz cruises on Perth paddle steamer Decoy run throughout the year, featuring a range of live bands, with on board bar and snacks.
The boat steams out of Mends Street Jetty in South Perth come rain or shine, as long as the water is calm, and has a roof canopy over the open deck area.
Keep an eye on the Decoy website for upcoming jazz cruises, and book ahead to secure your deck or music room tickets, depending on whether you prefer to be closer to the view or the music.
Afternoon Jazz Sessions
Jazz bars around Perth are rarely preserved for one genre, so you'll need to trawl local events to find the jazz music you're after. Here are some bars that are worth following for their regular live jazz gigs.
Jazz Fremantle promotes and supports live jazz in the bar of Perth's old Navy Club in Freo's historic West End. Every Sunday afternoon from 3.00 to 6.00pm, you can enjoy both familiar and brand new jazz from established and emerging young musicians.
From 4.00 to 7.00 on Sundays, Helm brings you sardines, Sauvignon Blanc and live jazz. Helm is upstairs and behind Little Creatures, with 270 degree views of Fremantle's Fishing Boat Harbour.
Saturday afternoon from 3.00pm is the time to head to a jazz bar in the Perth suburb of Maylands for some classic sounds. The Trio of Defectors are a mainstay at the Swallow, covering the likes of Miles Davies, Sonny Rollins and Duke Ellington. Keep an eye out for Sunday night gigs there too, when Perth jazz legends sometimes pop up.
Perth International Jazz Festival
A massive celebration of jazz in Perth happens every year in November, so make a note to check into the website a couple of months prior and book tickets. Venues around Northbridge host local, national and international jazz musicians bringing a mix of sounds. Concerts, jam sessions and conversations pack the weekend. Don't miss out on your favourites!