Jazz has a long history and deep roots in Montreal’s nightlife scene. During the prohibition era in the 1920’s and early 30’s, booze flowed freely in Quebec while it was banned in most of the rest of Canada and the United States. As a result, Montreal’s nightlife exploded during this era since it was the only major North American city where alcohol was legal. The club scene flourished, with renowned artists moving to Montreal and establishing a jazz culture that remains to this day. Oscar Peterson grew up in Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighborhood where jazz thrived in the ’20’s, and Leonard Cohen’s first live performance, a poem read over improvised piano, was recorded at the Birdland Jazz Club in 1958. Each year, Montreal hosts the world-renowned International Jazz Festival where thousands come from around the world to hear free live shows at outdoor stages, and see renowned artists perform in intimate venues. While most of the old jazz clubs and bars are long since closed, worthy new ones have taken their place, providing venues for music lovers to enjoy the rich sounds of live jazz in intimate environments.
Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill
Photo credit @Jezzabellgem
Upstairs Jazz is actually located downstairs – in a cozy, classy semi-basement bar. The long bar, wood paneling, stone walls, and linen tablecloths offer a timeless environment. The venue calls itself a “home away from home” for musicians and music lovers alike. Friday and Saturday are showcase nights, and have hosted numerous respected local and international artists, including Mark Turner, Antonio Sanchez, Nate Smith and so many more. Monday evening jam nights see locals take the stage in a friendly, laid back atmosphere. Everything about this place is geared towards the appreciation of jazz music and it is one of Montreal’s favorite venues in the genre.
Where: 1254 Mackay St.
House of Jazz
Photo Credit @sdimitraki
With its lavish cabaret bar-style furnishings and famous Louisiana-chicken and ribs combo, House of Jazz has been home to Canada’s jazz artists since 1981. Greats such as Oscar Peterson, Oliver Jones, Billy Georgette, and Skip Bey have performed here and there is live music nearly every night of the week. There is a $10 cover charge + $2 mandatory coat check. Reservations are recommended.
Where: 2060 Aylmer St.
Café Résonance is a coffeehouse/vegan cafe by day, and jazz club by night. Established in 2012, it’s an artist-run venue with live jazz every night of the week. A basement locale, it has an ultra casual, yet cozy environment, and friendly music-loving staff. The vegan meals are popular in town, but please note that they have a limited alcohol menu and the liquor licence requires that you order a meal with your drink.
Where: 5175A Park Ave.
Dieze Onze Jazz Club
Photo Credit @mrnoiseax
Situated in a semi-basement on St Denis street in the heart of the Plateau, Dieze Onze is a warm and intimate club welcoming jazz lovers. In the summer months an outdoor terrace can seat about 20 people. The small stage features a grand piano, and the venue offers at least one, sometimes two shows per evening. The kitchen provides a cosmopolitan menu of small plates and dishes. Reservations recommended on Friday/Saturday nights.
Where: 4115 St Denis St.