Whether you’re a fan or a musician, here’s our rundown on some of the best jazz clubs in Paris in 2020…
France has played an important part in jazz history, welcoming all sorts of legendary musicians over the years. Some came to play at the many festivals that take place in the summer, whilst others – like Miles Davis & Chet Baker – ended up staying for extended periods.
But aside from all that great history, there’s a vibrant and happening jazz scene today in France, with many international artists and local musicians of all styles playing there.
So whether you’re a jazz musician trying to book a European tour, or a music fan looking for new ideas for your next gig ticket, the jazz clubs of Paris must be pretty high up there.
For this guide, we’ve highlighted some of the best Paris jazz clubs and venues with some help from the local musicians who know them. We’ve kept it broad, so you should be able to find suitable ideas for every sub-genre within this music.
If you know the Paris jazz scene and have other suggestions to make, feel free to use the comments section.
Opened in 1981 with a concert by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, the New Morning is located in Paris’s 10th arrondissement and, whilst it’s primarily known as a jazz club, it also presents blues, groove, urban and world music. In fact, stylistically, it most closely resembles the programming of London venue The Jazz Cafe.
Holding upwards of 400 people – and with options for both sitting and standing shows – it’s presented many of the biggest international names including, to name just a few, Archie Shepp, Dianne Reeves, Didier Lockwood, Elvin Jones & Eric Truffaz. It’s a popular choice for album release concerts and sometimes broadcasts the shows live onto French radio.
La Dynamo de Banlieue Bleues
Situated in the East of Paris in an old industrial factory, la Dynamo is part of a complex purpose-built for jazz and improvised music. As such, it has great acoustics, flexible performance spaces and, as well as the regular concert, allows for daytime rehearsals.
The Paris jazz musician’s view: “Programme-wise, the music is centred around contemporary Jazz and other genres connected to this music and the musicians who make it. It’s worth noting that the venue is linked to the Banlieues Bleues festival, one of the biggest in France. I have a great memory of releasing of my trio album 30YearsFrom in 2017!” – Theo Girard, French bassist & bandleader
Situated on rue des Lombards – alongside 2 other notable jazz venues, the Duc Des Lombards & le Baiser Salé – the Sunset/Sunside name nicely sums up the clubs layout: a ground floor jazz club called Sunside and a basement one called Sunset.
The programme across these 2 rooms showcases a who’s who of the French jazz scene alongside strands of international programming which have included modern jazz legends such as Brad Meldhau, Archie Shepp, Kurt Elling & Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu.
“We like to work at Sunset-Sunside because the sound is good, the room is intimate yet big enough to have a good sized audience and the staff is generally concerned with helping the artist to do a good show” – Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen
Duc Des Lombards
Situated at the heart of one of Paris’s main tourist districts, the Duc Des Lombards has been presenting a mixture of local and international names for more than 3 decades now, with notable guests including Wynton Marsalis, Ahmad Jamal and Charlie Watts.
Despite it’s capacity of less than 100, it’s built up a strong reputation for booking some of the top swinging, contemporary jazz groups around. Most nights feature double shows and the Duc Des Lombards jam session is one of the great after-hours hangs in the French capital.
A British jazz singer & pianist Anthony Strong commented in a piece for The Guardian: “The Duc is a tiny but world-class jazz club in the heart of Paris. It feels every bit as authentic as a jazz club should; it’s dimly lit, with spotlights pointing toward the small circular stage; the audience sit in comfy leather seats, often within touching distance of the artists.
It’s one of the only clubs where I can genuinely make eye contact with people in the audience – and that’s special”
Jazz Cafe Montparnasse
Le Studio de l’Ermitage
Larger than a regular jazz club, the Studio (in Paris’s Eastern 20th arrondissement) is a very well equipped venue where the audience can sit or stand, depending on the music and the crowd.
Previously a biscuit factory, this venue holds up to around 250 people and presents a broad spectrum of jazz & world music 5 days a week. You can take a virtual 360 degree tour of the space here.
The musician’s input: “Apart from the dance evenings (Brazil, Balkans, balls etc), the organisers often make it available for hire, rather than in-house programming. Many French jazz groups host album releases there because with grant support and the venue can do filming in really great quality. It has a great atmosphere and is always very nice to play there!
Check out more: studio-ermitage.com
Le Comptoir in Fontenay
Juuuust outside of the city limits in Fontenay-sous-Bois, this venue is reachable by taxi or train (RER) and makes it onto our list of best jazz clubs in Paris via the enthusiastic recommendation of French bassist Theo Girard…
“Le Comptoir is my favourite venue in Paris; I love to go both as a performer and as a fan. It’s warm atmosphere is palpable from your very first step into the room and the team (technical, programming, catering) is very welcoming.
The programme is around 60% jazz, complemented by blues, world music and multidisciplinary experiences. You can eat and drink very well here too!” – Theo Girard, French bassist & bandleader
Check it out: musiquesaucomptoir.fr
Thanks for checking out this guide to some of the great jazz clubs that Paris has to offer. We’ll be updating it regularly throughout 2020, so please feel free to share your own tips in the comments section here…
If you’re a musician looking to expand your knowledge of what options are out there, you might be interested in some of our other articles on booking gigs for your project in 2020 and beyond. You can also join the mailing list for regular updates, info and content not published on the Jazzfuel site.