New Orleans is not only the birthplace of jazz icon Louis Armstrong—it's also the birthplace of jazz itself. Here's where you can hear the sounds that make New Orleans famous.
Frenchmen Street, located just a few steps from the French Quarter, is the beating heart of New Orleans' live music scene. And, naturally, jazz takes center stage at Frenchmen Street spots such as The Spotted Cat, where you can check out two or three concerts by different artists every day and night. You'll often hear swing-style jazz here, performed by such local acts as Meschiya Lake and Rites of Swing.
The last authentic steamboat on the Mississippi River is in New Orleans, and it's home to one of the city's most beloved jazz bands. The Dukes of Dixieland have been performing "Dixieland" jazz for decades, featuring a rotating cast of top-notch players. On the Steamboat Natchez's jazz cruises you'll be treated to the sounds of this distant cousin to bebop, and will be humming the Dukes' tunes long after you've stepped back on shore.
Preservation Hall is not only the most famous jazz club in New Orleans - it's arguably the most famous club in New Orleans, period. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs traditional New Orleans jazz in this small, intimate one-room venue, without a stage or even amplification, to a limited number of guests for its 8, 9 and 10pm concerts.
Louisiana's most famous street - Bourbon - is home to some of the oldest bars and music venues you'll find in New Orleans. Fritzel's stands out among them. For starters, it's the city's oldest operating jazz club, housed in an 1831 building with a gorgeous wraparound balcony. The house band plays traditional New Orleans jazz music, and counts among its members some of the finest performers in town.
This Uptown institution has been a beacon of New Orleans live music for over 40 years. You'll find concerts here seven nights a week with an emphasis on more contemporary jazz and funk music. The Maple Leaf is well known for its Tuesday night concerts featuring the Rebirth Brass Band - one of the world's premier groups playing a New Orleans-born style of jazz known simply as "brass band music."
Part performance hall, part community center, The Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market is the hub of Central City's cultural scene. It's also home to the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, an ensemble comprised of some of the city's stellar jazz musicians. Hear performances every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.
Jazz legend Jeremy Davenport is the featured artist at his namesake club, housed in the upscale Ritz-Carlton hotel. Davenport and his band play traditional favorites in this cocktail lounge that tips its hat to classic jazz clubs of decades ago.
Leave it to New Orleans to have its own national park devoted to jazz. New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park is where you'll learn the history of this quintessential American music style, through live concerts at the Old U.S. Mint (400 Esplanade Ave.) or at the park's visitor center in the French Market (916 N. Peters St.). You'll also find exhibitions and details about the park's jazz walking tours at the French Market location.
Snug Harbor has been grooving for over 30 years with some of the best-known names in jazz gracing its stage. Allen Toussaint and James Booker are just a couple local legends who have performed at the venue; in 2001, The New York Times referred to Snug Harbor as "probably the classiest jazz club in New Orleans."
Shopping for the music lover in your life? Then stop here. Louisiana Music Factory is where you'll find rare records and obscure titles by jazz artists from New Orleans and beyond. Stock up on CDs, DVDs, vinyl, books and souvenir T-shirts, and check Louisiana Music Factory's concert calendar - the store regularly hosts local jazz and Cajun artists.
Discover more about the rich music culture in New Orleans and start planning your music itinerary.