Argentine music — what springs to mind? Rock national, tango, cumbia, folklore? There could be a gem of a genre that you are overlooking at first glance — jazz.
For all you jazz junkies out there there’s a big river to dip your toes into here in Buenos Aires. Over my time here I’ve attempted to visit as many of the sax filled nooks and crannies that the City has to offer. The bottom line? It is very easy and I mean very easy to fill your time with jazz activities throughout the week here. From tribute nights hailing the greats, to local bands going wild with trumpet improvisations to romantic evenings with Woody Allen film soundtracks being recreated.
Here’s six little options along with a pick of the week to tickle your fancy!
Bebop Club (Moreno 364)
If you find yourself on an evening amble around Plaza de Mayo, why not take a small jazzy interlude and pop into Bebop. Part of the glamorous Moreno Hotel, this saucy venue can house up to 120 music lovers, playing a variety of soul, funk, pop, blues and that all important jazz of course.
Keeping in tradition with true jazz-club style, simply walk down the stairs to be greeted by a rouge themed basement, bustling with dining couples, bow-tied waiting staff and tables awash with bottles of wine.
Playing music on the occasional Monday, Bebop usually has something on every other night of the week. Price wise you’re looking at tickets ranging from around AR $100-AR $250 with a glass of Malbec setting you back a very doable AR $110. The menu has some scrumptious dishes too. This is a classy little place to enjoy some week time tunes as well as weekend marathons, with Friday and Saturday having two shows each night.
Bar Palacio (Av. Federico Lacroze 3901):
When not a restaurant, cafe or photography museum, Bar Palacio hosts a free jazz night every Tuesday evening. Slightly off the beaten track, this quirky little place perched on the street corner is less than a five minute walk from the F. Lacroze Subte stop (on the B line) and boy it is not one to miss.
N.B. It’s fairly likely that you will see an Argentine reincarnation of your grandad freaking out on the trombone. Here is mine:
Amidst the pint glasses and peanuts, this bustling little bubble is full of chatty groups and loud music with each table exhibiting an array of vintage cameras. Although not necessarily showcasing the current biggest names in the jazz world, if you’re after a friendly and chirpy bar on the fringes of the Subte then Bar Palacio is a great little spot to start off a merry week.
Virasoro Bar (Guatemala 4328):
Another little spot, remaining less hidden however due to the frequent loud jazz blasting through its windows. Appearing like a generously sized house from the 50s, walk into the intimate living room to be greeted by various jazz faces plastered across the walls.
The room houses around 15 people, and is lavishly equipped with smiles the plenty alongside reasonably priced food and drink. If you’re after a homely, snug feel which accommodates both content couples and lone jazz admirers all transfixed on the stage with wine in hand then Virasoro is the place for you.
What’s on the bill? Jazz from Wednesday through to Sundays from a variety of generally locally sourced artists, with Fridays and Saturdays having two shows per night.
Notorious (Av. Callao 966)
Wanting to romantically impress on a weekday date? Why not wine, dine and hear that music chime at Notorious. An unassuming music shop from the outside, take an amble down a corridor and dare to reach behind the black drapes to discover a jazzy Narnia hiding behind. Welcome to Notorious.
When visiting I was greeted by the waft of luscious, albeit fairly pricy grub and the sight of swanky looking couples sat at pristine white tables.
Exhibiting jazz more or less every day of the week, if you’re ever in need of some wine and an unwind then this isn’t a bad option. Musically there’s a fair mixture of Argentine talent along with a usual weekly tribute night running through each month, with this month’s edition paying tribute to the silky smooth, Nat King Cole. Generally, ticket prices range somewhere between AR $200-300.
Boris Club (Gorriti 5568)
Part of a fairly sizeable jazz admirers group? Well, look no further as Boris is a biggie. Located in Palermo the club boasts a generous stage as well as large seating upstairs and downstairs. With its vibrant chairs and dimmed luminous lighting which exude a more modern day jazz ambience.
I visited Boris on a homage to one of my favorites, Charlie Parker by Saxophonist Carlos Michelini accompanied by a ten strong collective. The group sported quite the interesting array of instruments, including violins and a french horn.
Shows are on the cards six days a week (Tuesday- Sunday) and you can expect a fair variety of sounds including some funk and soul thrown in for good measure. A regular Sunday slot is set for the Boris Big Band to see off the week. Ticket prices range from the AR $120 to around AR $240 with a G&T setting you back $140 pesos, but hey-ho it’s Palermo Hollywood so what can you expect.
Thelonious Club (Jerónimo Salguero 1884)
Along an unassuming city street just off Santa Fe, a black sign almost melting into the wall labels this swanky venue and keeps up that elusiveness of the jazz tradition. Ascend the windy staircase and be greeted by a glass door proudly boasting the inevitable 21st century seal of approval, a Trip Advisor 2015 Certificate of Excellence award. At the club’s entrance you reach a quaint little booth and get a glimpse through the curtain at the corridor shaped space.
During weekends the place is packed with prepared couples who’ve booked a free table in advance, alongside the more spontaneous types strewn to the back of the room and housed on stairs or black leather sofas. This venue makes you feel like you’ve been transported back in time, a little jazzy universe to escape reality.
Probably the most Facebook savvy amongst the clubs, Thelonious will make sure to keep you up to date with events. Once again, an array of sounds can be expected with shows running from Wednesday- Sunday. A current regular spot is allocated to showcase Woody Allen film soundtracks every Saturday night from 9PM. What will that G&T set you back? A very reasonable AR $80, with pretty decent food available for the peckish amongst you.
So there you have it, the Buenos Aires jazz scene. Well, a reasonable snippet at least. For those hungry enough there’s plenty of jazz going out at numerous locations throughout the city but with these six spots you’re bound to find something that sings to you.
Pick of the week: Ibrahim Ferrer Jr I Bebop I Thursday from 9PM I AR$200
A dash of traditional Cuban music, a spatter of Latin Jazz, a sprinkle of Afro-Cuban rhythms and a dusting of Bossa Nova are amongst the sounds to expect from this Cuban concoctionist and son of Buena Vista Social Club’s late Ibrahim Ferrer . Ferrer Jr is no stranger to the Argentine sound, having won the prestigious Premio Carlos Gardel award (Argentine equivalent of the Grammys) for his album Al son de un Homenaje. If you can’t make it this week don’t panic as he’ll also be at Notorious on Saturday (May 20th) and the following Saturday (May 27th).