Prague has a long and illustrious love affair with jazz. In fact, not even Nazi prohibition could keep its funky beats from the Czech capital’s smoky bars and clubs. It was composer Jaroslav Ježek and musician, Rudolf Antonín Dvorský who first brought the smooth sounds of jazz to Prague’s attention in the 1930s, though it went stratospheric in the 1950s thanks to the opening of Reduta, the city’s first ever dedicated jazz club.
Today, Prague’s still got the hots for swingin’ sounds. The Prague International Jazz Festival is going strong after over 50 years, and the city is home to the highest concentration of professional jazz musicians per 100 inhabitants in all of Europe. If you want to catch a gig or jam session, here are some of the best places to see live jazz in Prague.
The godfather that started it all, Reduta was the prototype for Prague’s jazz clubs. Opened in 1958 by a collective of local musicians, it has seen performances from icons like Louis Armstrong, Ronnie Scott and Acker Bilk. It’s even famed for an impromptu sax session from Bill Clinton when he visited in 1994. A smart, elegant space with plush red seating, Reduta is the discerning jazz fan’s venue of choice.
Jazz Republic is a family-run multi purpose space: part-club, part-gallery and part-café. Showcasing a daily-rotating programme of the finest Czech and local talent, Jazz Republic is a great destination to discover up-and-coming artists and hear classic jazz sets. The cosy, intimate cellar venue hosts eclectic performances, like Michael Jackson’s repertoire played blues-style.
This stylish club is set on the banks of the Vltava River, and offers a more contemporary vibe than Prague’s underground cellar bars. You can catch everything from swing and dixieland to R&B and bebop in Jazz Dock’s concert hall or up on their outdoor deck. They’ve got a swish, 10-foot-long bar with a killer cocktail menu, too.
U Malého Glena is one of Prague’s cosiest destinations to catch live jazz sounds until the early hours of the morning. Located in a quaint baroque building near the Charles Bridge, the small-but-sweet jazz bar is open seven days a week. Each Sunday is a jam session where anything goes, and on Monday’s you can catch Stan the Man and his Bohemian Blues Band – the longest running blue’s gig in Prague. Expect great local and visiting musicians throughout the week.
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