Playboy Jazz Festival
It comes around only once a year in June, but the Los Angeles Playboy Jazz Festival attracts giants of the genre. Hosted in the open air at the iconic Hollywood Bowl, the two-day festival brings jazz musicians such as Janelle Monáe, Eddie Palmieri, Cécile McLorin Salvant, and Seth MacFarlane front and center. Contemporary artists such as Snarky Puppy, Ledisi, and Aloe Blacc also find their way to each year’s performance roster, for a series of live concerts not to be forgotten.
Catalina Jazz Club
Catalina Jazz Club’s slogan is ‘nothing but the best in jazz.’ To live up to their promise, this Hollywood-based jazz club has brought musicians such as Dizzie Gillespie, Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Max Roach, Ron Carter, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Michael Brecker, and many more through its doors. Reservations are available, and their tasty menu includes dishes such as Cajun catfish, rack of lamb, and shrimp scampi pasta. As a bonus, Catalina also hosts private parties.
The Baked Potato
Since the 1970s, The Baked Potato has been serving up delicious spuds and delightful jazz music. Beyond one of the most extensive potato-based menus in Los Angeles, this little spot counts jazz musicians such as Dave Anderson, Cheryl Barnes, and Otmaro Ruis among its regular performers. Brush up on the club’s history before a visit with a documentary on the spot, where jazz legends such as Kenny G and Al Jarreau play a significant role. Located in Studio City and run by musician and composer Don Randi, The Baked Potato offers up a little slice of jazz history.
Both a bar and art space, Little Tokyo’s Bluewhale is known for its live jazz scene. An appealing venue for the ultimate creative, Bluewhale came to be thanks to jazz vocalist Joon Lee. Visit either the bar area for a drink or check out the unconventional free-seating live performance area for an intimate encounter with music and art in the surrounding gallery. Recent acts at Bluewhale include the Cyrille Aimée Quintet, Chantae Cann, and John Patitucci, among others.
Jazz at LACMA
During the summer, Los Angeles County Museum of Art features live jazz music in the open air every Friday night. The Jazz at LACMA series begins in June and runs through September of each year, and has brought in some of the giants of jazz, including Wayne Shorter, Les McCann, Arturo Sandoval, and this season, Ernie Watts. Each concert is free and open to the public, so get there early to stake out your space. While LACMA requests no outside alcohol or glass bottles, snacks are welcome for this fun summer series.
Vibrato Grill Jazz
Upscale, from the location (Bel Air) to the menu, Vibrato Grill Jazz aims to bring the best in music and culinary art right to the table. Founded by musician Herb Alpert, the menu includes scrumptious choices such as Roquefort filet, pan-seared diver scallops, and BBQ short ribs, among others. Daily live jazz shows have included recent artists such as the Rob Lockhart Quartet, Nan Schwartz, and the Ron Stout Quartet. Vibrato welcomes reservations for this exclusive jazz experience.
Pips on La Brea
Pips on La Brea has brought live jazz music and food to the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles since 2010. Opened by entertainment mogul Derrick Pipkin, Pips aims to impress with Master Chef Luis Carrizo Salvat’s culinary creations and the sounds of jazz. Regular nightly entertainers include Barbara Morrison, Darryl Woodfolk, and Gregory ‘Gee Mack’ Lawrence, among others. Of special note, Pips on La Brea makes a great brunch spot, where live jazz by Cal Bennett perfectly complements eggs, waffles, or crepes.