Jazz After Dark is a lively, intimate Soho venue that’s all about the music. Since launching in 1985, rock star Pete Doherty & The Libertines have played here, famous New Orleans Jazz and Blues musicians have taken to the stage, and the late, great Amy Winehouse was a regular who both performed and partied at the popular haunt. Today, Jazz After Dark showcases the best Blues, jazz, funk, soul and acoustic artists from around the world each night, serves up expertly mixed cocktails and offers one of the most top-tapping atmospheres in London. I headed there on a Saturday night to watch jazz band Maxine Ryan, here’s what I thought…
Smack bang in the middle of Soho’s famous Greek Street, Jazz After Dark is just a short walk from Tottenham Court Road Tube and a few doors from Portico Place, 68 & Boston. It’s rather unassuming from the outside, but open the door and you’re hit with atmosphere and music. The venue is small and entirely lit by candle light, with a bar area, tables and chairs pushed up against the wall, and a small stage at the back. Oil paintings fill the walls, many of which are of Amy Winehouse and Kate Moss. It has a real speakeasy vibe, and as we take a seat we feel like we’ve stumbled upon a really well-kept secret.
There’s a real mix of people sitting around the tables, from young couples canoodling at the back to a larger group celebrating a 40th with a bottle of prosecco and mezze platters. A waiter greets us instantly and takes our order: an Espresso Martini and a Mojito. We’d already eaten so skipped food, but the menu is certainly tempting, offering a mix of small tapas plates, burgers and pub-friendly platters, (including Amy’s favourite platter of southern fried chicken, meat balls, chicken wings and chips), an homage to the late jazz singer who often ate and sang at the venue.
The band took to the stage as our drinks arrived and the room erupted with energy and applause. They were a spirited quintet, led by a beautiful and soulful jazz singer who had a funny anecdote or story behind every song. Music ranged from classics like Georgia which got everyone in the room singing, to upbeat numbers that got every on their feet. It was really lovely to be able to sit, relax and enjoy the music, and I’d certainly recommend both the band and the venue. There’s something different on each night, usually starting at 10:30pm and finishing at 02:30pm, so we’ll certainly be back!
Enjoy 2 for 1 entrance, (£5 per person) on Wednesday and Thursday. The band starts at 9pm and finishes at 1.30am.
£5 discount on entrance Friday & Saturday with a Portico Places card (when the entrance is £10 or £15).
It’s recommended that you call to book in advance to save disappointment.