Jazz is a unique music genre. It has its era, ambiance, and sound that is distinct. It can evoke excitement and dance or soothe a soul with its tales. The crooning and instrumentals provide a great backdrop to parties or a transcendent listening experience.
Those who enjoy listening to jazz, especially in a live setting, would benefit from visiting certain cities known for their live jazz clubs and bars, along with other offerings that specifically cater to jazz fans.
California has a rich, long history in the jazz music scene, particularly in LA and Oakland. Culver City had several jazz clubs in the 1920s, which included the Alabam and Cotton Club. The Cotton Club is where Louis Armstrong made his first LA appearance. Kid Ory’s Sunshine Orchestra also made one of the first jazz recordings in LA with “Ory’s Creole Trombone” and “Society Blues.”
During the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, Seventh Street in West Oakland had a lively blues music scene at night. Enthusiasts had the opportunity to watch Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, and Sammy Davis Jr perform there. Many refer to the street as the “Harlem of the West.”
Oakland is a city with pride in its jazz history. There are monuments, activities, and places that any jazz enthusiast will enjoy visiting in the city. Whether you reside or are just visiting Oakland, there are some jazz events you can enjoy.
Jazz in the Neighborhood
Jazz in the Neighborhood is one of the city’s efforts to keep the music alive. It’s an affordable concert that supports established and aspiring jazz artists. They host concerts and festivals throughout the year. Most are free, and it will be affordable if you ever have to pay anything.
One of the reasons that jazz is in decline is because its uneconomic for artists. They often live on tips and unreliable ticket sales. Jazz in the Neighborhood strives to set itself apart by giving jazz players a wage for their performances.
The Malcolm X Jazz Festival has been around since 2000. It’s an event from the Eastside Arts Alliance, celebrating the legacy of Malcolm X through live music, graffiti arts, live painting, vendors, food, dance, and more. The festival celebrates jazz in all its forms, such as Latin Jazz, straight ahead, jazz, and hip hop. The Malcolm X Jazz festival usually takes place in May (his birth month) at the San Antonio Park. Due to the pandemic, the organizers postponed the festival, but they will be active online to exhibit artists and art.
Jazz and Blues Concerts
Within Oakland, you will find many jazz and blues concerts. You will find veterans and new talent on the stages. The city also offers new interpretations and sounds to listeners. No matter the time of day, you will find the city alive with the music.
Along with jazz, Oakland has a great history of food. The restaurants in Jack London Square are a popular visit for a wide variety of lunch and dinner options. Inside the venues and outside, you will find great eateries where you can partake in the history and art of jazz.
Geoffrey’s Inner Circle is an establishment by Geoffrey Pete, a businessman, organizer, and advocate in the African American community. It is a short distance from 12th St. Oakland Station, and it’s been around for more than 20 years. The place is alive with Improv jazz jams and organized sets by local jazz players. Locals enjoy the company of the staff and the dance floor. It’s a public space that you can also hire for your private events.
Food and drink are usually the focus at some clubs, but the Sound Room focuses on the music. It has a strong menu, with light and heavy meals for any palette and beverages to match, but it prefers to center itself around the music. It provides an intimate jazz experience. There is an event every week in this renowned establishment. To ensure seating, you should book your seats in advance.
Yoshi’s is a jazz club that stands apart from the rest. It’s a sushi bar that opened its doors in the early 70s; its namesake is its founder Yoshie Akiba. It’s a large venue in the heart of Oakland’s Jack London Square; it’s a 310-seat live performance venue. It has recently expanded its music offering to include more genres.
Jazz it up in Oakland
Oakland is a city that is still keeping jazz alive. Visit it if you are an enthusiast or would like to learn more about it. No matter what type of jazz you want, you’ll find a home in Oakland.