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Top 10 Places for Jazz

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There are many wonderful things about New Orleans, and her native music, jazz, is one of the best. Here we celebrate life and death with jazz. Whether it's a jazz brunch on Sunday, a jazz band in a street parade, or a jazz funeral on Friday, there's always jazz to be heard in New Orleans. No trip to New Orleans would be complete without a visit to one of the great jazz clubs around town. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Preservation Hall

New Orleans-5995  Preservation Hall — known to many as “the house that jazz built” — is at 726 St. Peter Street.
Michael McCarthy/msmccarthyphotography/flickr.com/Creative Commons License

Preservation Hall, located at 726 St. Peter St. in New Orleans' French Quarter, is probably the most well known of all the jazz clubs in the city. Here you can hear the traditional acoustic New Orleans jazz. Everything you are familiar with, like the second lines of Mardi Gras and the dirges of the jazz funerals are staples. One thing to know about Preservation Hall, there is no food nor drink, just pure New Orleans Jazz at its best.

2. Fritzel's

Fritzel's, located at 733 Bourbon Street, has the atmosphere of a neighborhood pub and is often frequented by local musicians. Here you can dance the second line to the jazz clarinet skillfully played by Ryan Burrage on weekends.

3. French Quarter Bar

This classy bar at the Ritz-Carlton on Canal Street is a great place to people watch since there are often reports of movie star sightings. Lately I've heard John Cusack, Britney Spears, Kate Hudson and Dustin Hoffman have been seen here. So, if you don't mind paying about $15.00 for a glass of wine, enjoy the elegant surroundings of the French Quarter Bar. And the music is pretty good too! Jeremy Davenport sings and plays the trumpet in great style.

4. Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse

Irvin Mayfield, who has been officially designated a cultural ambassador for the city of New Orleans has opened this club in the Royal Sonesta Hotel at 300 Bourbon Street. Even if you miss Irvin's gig, you'll see other great Jazz acts.

5. Colbalt

Colbalt Restaurant & Bar in the Hotel Monaco at 333 St. Charles Avenue is in the middle of the Central Business District and is the favorite places for young execs to chill at the end of a work week at a jazz happy hour. On Fridays David Torkanowsky plays both jazz and New Orleans music on his piano. Colbalt is also a great restaurant and offers a good jazz brunch on Sunday.

6. Snug Harbor

At the down-river end of the French Quarter, you will find Fauburg Marigny, and Frenchmen Street in "the Marigny" as the locals call the area, is the place to be for good food and music. The oldest and still the best is Snug Harbor music hall on Frenchmen Street. (626 Frenchmen)Here Nicholas Payton grew up and Alan Toussaint made his jazz debut. The focus at Snug Harbor is modern jazz and it features local talent.

7. Sweet Lorraine's Jazz Club

Sweet Lorraine's is another great place for modern jazz. It's a short taxi ride to 1931 St. Claude Avenue, and it's worth it. Sweet Lorraine's was recently renovated thanks to a fire and is now has a classy art deco feel. Sweet Lorriane's features mostly local talent, but has some great successes in bringing in out-of-town greats like Gato Brbieri and David "Fathead" Newman.

8. Vaughan's

Vaughan's is a bar, pure and simple. It's as down-scale as you can get. But Vaughan's has great music six nights a week. Get there on Thursday to hear Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers. Harry Connick, Jr. and Wynton Marsalis have shown up on Thursdays to sit in with Kermit, who is a New Orleans icon. Expect no frills and drink beer and you'll love it.

9. Donna's Bar & Grill

If you're into no frills, and you liked Vaughan's, try Donna's. Located at the edge of the French Quarter at 800 N. Rampart Street, Donna's hosts the Treme Brass Band on most Fridays, and usually on Monday's you can here Bob Fench, a local jazz drummer and singer.

10. The Jazz Parlor at Storyville

At 125 Bourbon Street, right off Canal, is the Jazz Parlor. On Mondays Tim Laughlin, a traditional jazz clarinetist, plays.
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