The Best Jazz Bars in Toronto
The best jazz bars in Toronto are home to some of the city's top musicians. While Toronto doesn't have its own distinct jazz sound, the city's venues are home to a plethora of talented emerging artists coming from institutions such as Humber College, York University and the University of Toronto. This new community of artists has reinvigorated jazz in a city where diehards still lament the loss of former staples like Montreal Jazz Bistro and Top O' The Senator. What Toronto lacks in distinctiveness, it gains in diversity; from classical, to funk, to fusion, you won`t be hard pressed to find the subgenre of your choosing in this city.
Here are the best jazz bars in Toronto.
See also: The best blues bars in Toronto
Writing by Jacob Thompson.
The classic - you knew this was going to be here. The Rex offers a diverse selection of local up-and-coming artists while also having the clout to host Grammy award-winners. Live jazz is played seven days a week, with afternoon shows as well. This, combined with a cool and calm ambience and reasonable cover, has made this Queen St. spot the place to be for over 40 years.
This Kensington stowaway offers diverse music and some hip décor. Located in a former garage (not the mechanic kind), Poetry Jazz Café aims to bring what they call "young jazz mavericks" to their establishment. You'll see a lot of musicians fresh out of school trying to prove themselves on the circuit. The youthful vibe and the cozy confines gives it a homey feel. Check out their alcoholic rendition of Bitches Brew.
The former location of Top O’ the Senator filled its jazz void with this strong up-and-comer. It’s more of a formal bar then what Toronto is used to, but should be more attractive for the city's diehards. Shows run in the evening and its open concept space plays well to the music. Cover is on the pricier side, but you do get a quality night of jazz.
Canadian prog rocker Alex Lifeson opened this bar back in 1994; 20 years later, it still maintains its musical diversity. Located in Little Italy, this bar plays a variety of jazz, blues, funk, R&B, and reggae while priding itself on having its own unique sound and following. The Orbit Room offers live music every day of the week from local Canadian talent.
Celebrating its centennial year in 2014, this bar, is located in the confines of the Old Mill luxury hotel and spa in the Humber Valley. They host local and international artists and offer live jazz week-round, starting in the early afternoon. The decor is early twentieth-century with its inauguration date oddly correlating with the beginning of World War I.
What makes Grossman's so special? For one thing, they've never charged cover in their 66 years of existence. Located in Chinatown, Grossman's offers live music every night while also hosting a five-hour open jam on Sundays for those who wish to try their hand. It may not be as flashy as some of the newer lounges but its old world charm and consistency lands it on the list.
If you couldn't tell from the name, this lounge is another in a long list of bars that have attempted to capture that New Orleans feel. Perfect for small parties, the King Street lounge offers live music every night until 1am. Come for the jazz, stay for the Cajun food, although get ready to open your wallet.
The Reservoir Lounge is located on Wellington, just across the street from the Flatiron Building. Its basement location makes for a more intimate night out, which bodes well for the crowd that comes to dance. The Reservoir Lounge guarantees an energetic night out full of be-bop and martini-swirling.
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