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Tucked away at the foot of Chambers Street, The Jazz Bar is one of those underground venues you might not notice when walking past. That’s partly because it’s one of those places that come alive at night rather than during the day.
A multi-award-winning, non-threatening, dungeon run by proprietor Bill Kyle, the first thing you notice going down the stairs is the word “Jazz” buzzing away in red neon. The second thing you notice is the New York-style basement bar lay-out: alcoves, low-ceilings, abstract jazz-musician art on the brick walls, and a stage at the far end where you can hear the very best in jazz, funk, soul and blues every single day of the week.
Cocktails are an obvious feature (it is a jazz bar after all), there’s the occasional independent ale on offer, too, and even if you’re not in the mood for boozing, their filtered coffee and Australian ginger-beer is a welcome alternative.
Despite the relatively small size of the place (with a capacity of 140), there’s no shortage of tables and chairs (for the beard-stroking listeners among us) and, if you fancy shaking your booty, there’s room for that as well.
Head along in the afternoon – when there’s some light jazz or acoustic blues on offer – and the atmosphere will make you think you’re in Manhattan as opposed to the Old Town. Go in the evening, however – when local, UK and international touring jazz artists are in town, or when the funk musicians are about to lay their groove down – and you might imagine you’re in a smaller version of Studio 54.
Check it out.
The Jazz Bar, Chambers Street, 0131-220 4298
Mon-Fri, 5pm-3am; Sat-Sun 2.30pm-3am; two-hour extension during Edinburgh Fringe (bar to 5am).
To find out what’s on the programme at The Jazz Bar, visit www.thejazzbar.co.uk
Words: Barry Gordon