Where to listen to jazz music in WNY
It might have started out as humble blue collar music, but somewhere along the way jazz got sophisticated – something you enjoy like fine wine or a painting by Monet.
While live jazz is still primarily a refined experience, a new generation of jazz musicians are coming with a different approach, creating music that is more upbeat and accessible. More and more jazz is becoming something you can enjoy on a night out on the town, and we are so here for that.
Lucky for us, Buffalo has a proud and diverse jazz tradition that continues to thrive. You can’t rock a tenor saxophone in this city without hitting at least one great jazz musician. Below is a short list of great local jazz venues with many different vibes.
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These places are great starting points: they’ve been doing live jazz for a long time. They are steeped in tradition and are highly respected in the local jazz community and beyond.
1. Club of colored musicians
145 Broadway, Buffalo, New York State 14203
Boasting the appearance over the years of icons like Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, the Colored Musicians Club is a must-see even for non-jazz fans. If you want to feel the roots of jazz in western New York, this is where you go.
2. Anchor bar
1047 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14209
With people from all over the world flocking regularly, the Anchor Bar can be a bit of a tourist trap. What many locals may not know is that this chicken wing icon is actually a great place for jazz, with live performances in the back room on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. The atmosphere can get quite lively. Catch a Friday night set from The Jazz Example and you might start to think of the Anchor Bar, a jazz club that serves chicken wings.
3. PAUSA Art House
19 Wadsworth Street, Buffalo, NY 14201
Although relatively new, PAUSA quickly gained a reputation as a must-see jazz spot. Of course, there are more prestigious places listed below, but PAUSA reliably books more jazz than these other places. It’s an intimate place where the vibe changes depending on who’s performing.
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4. Albright-Knox Art Gallery
1285 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222
For a more refined jazz experience, you can’t beat the Albright-Knox. The art gallery hosts a monthly jazz happy hour series on the first Friday of each month and regularly hosts world-class jazz artists as part of its Jazz Art Series.
5. Oliver’s restaurant
2095 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14216
We’ve already told you about the amazing things that go on in Oliver’s kitchen and the wine list is one of the best in WNY. Oliver’s is also the performance home of local jazz icon George Jones, who plays a solo piano on Friday nights and with his trio on Saturday nights.
6. Roycroft Inn
40 S Grove St, East Aurora, NY 14052
The Roycroft combines the history of a place like the Colored Musicians Club with the refined atmosphere of Oliver’s. His Jazz Artisans Series features the biggest names in local jazz every Sunday evening and regularly hosts jazz groups on weekends.
7. Sports tavern
326 Amherst St, Buffalo, NY 14207
Regularly booking tours of national artists and the occasional Grammy winner, the respect for Sportsmens Tavern extends far beyond western New York. However, Sportsmens tends to focus more on bluegrass and Americana than jazz. It would be the perfect location for a more blue collar jazz experience.
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8. Hotel Henri
444 Forest Ave, Buffalo, NY 14213
Any excuse to go to the Henry Hotel, you take it. The self-proclaimed urban oasis now has a jazz concert series the second Wednesday of the month.
9. The neighborhood
26 Virginia Pl, Buffalo, NY 14202
Dedicated to bringing New Orleans to Buffalo, you won’t get a less pretentious jazz vibe in Buffalo than in The Quarter. The bar-restaurant offers jazz concerts every Friday evening.
10. The Delaware Park Terrace
199 Lincoln Pkwy, Buffalo, NY 14222
There is nothing more idyllic than the jazz lava overlooking Lake Hoyt in Delaware Park. La Terrasse presents live “Jazz and cocktails” evevery Friday and Saturday evening.
11. Buffalo Distillery Company
860 Seneca St, Buffalo, NY 14210
As well as making your favorite locally made krupnik, Buffalo Distilling Company is also a big supporter of local music, including jazz. The distillery bar offers live jazz the third Friday of each month.