City Guide: exploring Jazz in Paris

13th November 2018

Paris is a city celebrated globally for its architecture, cuisine (got to cop those croissants) and sophisticated tastes. Paris was one of the first European cities to embrace Jazz. The beguine — a style of Jazz that is inclusive of 19th century ballroom dance with African rhythms — was hugely popular in Paris between the 1930s and 1950s; the same era that legendary Romani-French guitarist Django Reinhardt was active. Today, the city is home to a varied collection of clubs, venues and record stores. We’ve selected a few of the best to inspire any Jazz enthusiast in Paris.

Check out these: live venues

Spacious basement club New Morning is a versatile space with programming that suits several tastes. At time of writing, future billings include Billy Cobham, Joe Armon-Jones, The Blackbyrds and Terence Blanchard. It was Prince’s favourite place in Paris, regularly giving surprise performances here. At La Petite Halle, you’ll find Rhythm Section’s Neue Grafik in residence. It’s at these fortnightly shows he’ll team up with artists from his wide network of up and coming musicians. Check out La Dynamo for a semi-affordable way to check out new-wave and off-centre artists in an interesting location. Hit up Les Disqairies for expiermental treats and Duc Des Lombards for straight-ahead big names.

Check out these: Record stores

Jazz-heads should hit Superfly. The owners themselves are diggers, so you can flick knowing that you’re already working your way through a well curated selection. With several crates for Jazz, it also has larger space than most for European library music; producers will have a field day looking for sample gold. Although Vinyl Factory labelled Superfly the 5th best record store in the world, fellow stores in the French capital will further excite and satisfy the nichest of collectors. Like Superfly, Heartbeat Vinyl have an active ‘want-it’ list for any diggers with tick list. They present a magazine of styles but do make sure to visit if you’re seeking out soul, funk and disco. Meanwhile, a local’s favourite is Balades Sonores, who stock a varied and accessible collection of records. You can catch their bi-monthly art exhibitions and weekly showcases every Thursday. They speak English too — handy if your French is lacking. 

Check out these: Miscellaneous highlights

Experiencing nightlife like a Parisien means enjoying long meals and seeking out local entertainment. If you’re looking to bar-hop, keep in mind that this isn’t in a Parisien’s culture as much as it is for a Londoner or a New Yorker; you’ll find that the best spots for a glass of wine look less like bars and more like cafés. However, that’s not to say that bar culture doesn’t exist in the city. Canal St Martins is a great spot for socialising in the centre of Paris. Amongst the area, you’ll find Le Mellotron, a music-orientated bar and radio station that provide well selected beers, a delicious cocktail menu and a warm welcome. Enjoy watching the broadcasters host live shows whilst you sip. Meanwhile, check out Le Comptoir General, a 600 square-metre barn with Franco-African touches throughout its decor, food and drink menu. Get there early as queues mount later in the evening. If you’re looking for weekend brunch, check out their Franco-African take or head to Paperboy Paris, a casual setting that serves a classic, delicious brunch menu — teamed with paper matts and coloured pencils as standard for those who are fidgety-fingered.

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