Despite being known more for blues, soul, and rock n roll, Memphis has always fostered a strong community of jazz musicians and aficionados and produced some all-time greats of the genre such as Charles Lloyd, George Coleman, and Phineas Newborn Jr. While it’s inarguable that Memphis is lacking in proper jazz clubs, there are still several reliable venues in which you can catch some great live jazz on a regular basis. Below are five of the clubs, venues, and series helping to keep jazz alive in the Bluff City.
Whether in the Main Atrium, the Green Room, or the Crosstown Theater, the Crosstown Concourse regularly features top-notch jazz performers from around the globe. In the past month alone, they’ve hosted jazz greats Patrice Williamson, Peter Bernstein, and the Bad Plus, alongside countless homegrown acts. Crosstown Arts’ ongoing “Modern Masters Jazz Series” is particularly notable for regularly bringing some of the biggest names in contemporary jazz through town. To check out which shows will be coming soon, check out their calendar here.
While a pirate-themed dive bar nestled in Binghamton might not be the most obvious place to catch jazz music, the Cove has long been one of Memphis’ most reliable places to see the genre live, particularly on Thursday and Sunday nights during their regularly-scheduled jazz nights. While the Cove isn’t your typical jazz club, the bar does have some killer cocktails and low lighting to help set the mood.
Both the Duncan-Williams Performance Hall and the outdoor venue The Grove at the Germantown Performing Arts Center regularly feature jazz artists from both near and far. The ongoing “Jazz in the Box” concert series is particularly notable for serious jazz fans, regularly bringing A-list talent to the Bluff City.
Sunset Jazz Series at Court Square
Sunset Jazz at Court Square is a free family friendly Jazz concert series hosted by Just Jazzin’. The series is held annually, every 2nd Sunday of May through October. It offers a great line-up of some of Memphis’ finest jazz artists, featuring different styles from straight ahead to swing. Grab a snack and a drink from one of the food trucks and sit down for an evening of great entertainment in the heart of Downtown.
The Overton Park Shell
Established in 1936, the Overton Park Shell remains one of the city’s premiere live music venues, particularly during the warmer months. For years now, the venue has been bringing Memphians a plethora of excellent (and free!) concerts, including jazz. They are also the sponsor of the “Shell on Wheels” series, which has a particular focus on bringing jazz music to unexpected places around the city!
You might also be interested in: Memphis Blues Bars: The Ultimate Guide to Blues in Memphis