Bimhuis: Amsterdam's legendary jazz venue
The Bimhuis was one of the first venues to put Amsterdam jazz firmly on the map as a leader in Europe. Its roots date back to the early '70s, when local musos founded a new home for the local improv jazz scene in a former furniture salesroom. These days it shares a more bespoke performance space with the Muziekgebouw aan ´t IJ, with a wood-panelled room that caters to the best Dutch players and a revolving array of international jazz talents – always with outstanding acoustics and atmosphere.
North Sea Jazz Club: a playful jazz & blues venue
Down at the Westergasfabriek, set amidst restaurants, nightclubs and a cinema, the North Sea Jazz Club is a modern entry to the Amsterdam jazz scene – but one that packs a historical punch. Taking inspiration from the world renowned North Sea Jazz Festival, the club presents popular jazz nights, pop/soul/R&B cover sessions, talent showcases, album releases and invites huge international legends from the jazz and blues scene. With a capacity that varies from 250 to 450 per event (depending on whether the shows are dining or all standing), the gigs here are intimate and energetic.
Amsterdam jazz cafés
Another key aspect of Amsterdam jazz and blues world is the prevalence of legendary cafés. These small bars used to be smoke-filled with free-flowing booze. The smoke is missing these days but the booze and their iconic music reputation remains. Shuffle into Tough Tenor (formerly known as Café Alto), Bourbon Street, the Cotton Club or Maloe Melo on any given night and you'll uncover lively jam sessions and impromptu gigs. You may not always know the names of the musicians but you'll recognise the grooves. And sometimes you'll be lucky enough to stumble upon local icons like Hans Dulfer, Candy Dulfer or Benjamin Herman doing their thing.
Jazz in every other corner
Other key spots to catch jazz in Amsterdam include the pop venues Melkweg and Paradiso. While the Royal Concertgebouw may be most renowned for its orchestral concerts, it hosts regular jazz performances in its smaller halls, as well as gigs from the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw and the Metropole Orchestra in the main hall.
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