One of the true tests of a city is, in my opinion, great jazz. Along with excellent markets, fabulous architecture, and great food, jazz is a marker of a city I’ll return to again and again. Jazz in Dallas is perfection.
Dallas is a great city for listening to live music and you can literally go out to a different place every night of the week. I continue to be amazed at the number of extremely talented musicians in this city. Since the 1920s, Dallas has been a hub for great musicians of all genres and thankfully, the tradition continues.
In most large metropolitan areas, a night out listening to live music could get rather expensive.
Every venue on this list is free.
That would be unheard of in a city like Los Angeles or New York, and most of the talent in Dallas have played both of those cities and then some. I’d go so far as to say that some of the best musicians in the world are in Dallas, Texas.
10 Great Places To Listen to Jazz In Dallas, Texas
UPDATED January 25, 2019
Times 10 Cellars
Times 10 Cellars is a popular neighborhood wine bar serving better-than-average small plates, wine, and beer. The main room is warm and inviting, with a variety of tables for couples or groups. The sound is good in this room no matter where you sit. Or, sit at the bar and still hear and see whoever is playing that night.
Live music is on Sunday nights only from 4:00 – 7:00 PM.
They’ve got a great lineup of well-known Dallas jazz musicians. Dave Monsch, who I first caught up with at 18th & Vine is now playing Times 10 every third Sunday. But, seriously, any Sunday will be great!
Wine geek tip: If you really love great wine and consider yourself an aficionado, don’t go for the wine. Here’s where you should go to experience the best Dallas wine.
Times 10 Cellars
6324 Prospect Ave
18th & Vine – currently no music in the Roost
Serving up Kansas City style BBQ and live music in a renovated frame house, 18th & Vine is a cozy new addition to the Dallas food and music scene. Upstairs is The Roost, where the music happens, and from the looks of the place on a Wednesday night, the concept of “Que and food works.
The Roost is just big enough to be comfortable but not feel vacant on a slower night. Though the live music is found exclusively in the Roost, you can also order food there (downstairs is dedicated solely to the Que).
Dave Monsch is at the Roost every Wednesday with a jazz trio or a quartet.
Other nights you’ll find blues, singer-song-writer duos, or other jazz musicians. Check the website or call to find out about evening entertainment. The place has a hip but relaxed vibe and the single thing I look for, is it the kind of place where anyone could be comfortable? Definitely.
18th & Vine
4100 Maple Ave.
Shelley Carol with Jackie, Max Gerl and Todd Parsnow in front of 8 Bells Alehouse.
8 Bells Alehouse
8 Bells Alehouse is located near Fair Park and has a very warm and casual vibe, much like a European pub. This is the sister restaurant of 10 Bells Tavern in Oak Cliff, located in the space formerly known as New Amsterdam. You’ll notice it looks similar, but better. The new owners have added a kitchen serving up really good pub food, and the prices are easy on the wallet. The same great patio out back also benefits from some updating.
Note: There is a two drink minimum. You don’t have drink alcohol, but you do have to order something. You can chose to dine if you don’t want to order drinks, which I recommend.
8 Bells Alehouse
831 Exposition Ave.
Chocolate Secrets has added paninis and a cheese plate to their menu. Stick to the chocolate, coffee, and wine. They’ve also expanded and the new room is large, with lots of tables but not much personality. I prefer the original rooms which are still there. However, the night I was there the musicians played in the new space. So, go for the wine, chocolate, and music. Great combo I think!
Chocolate Secrets, located on the edge of Highland Park (almost in Oak Lawn), is a cozy little cafe offering wine by the glass or bottle, handmade Belgian chocolates, coffees, and desserts. It’s a romantic spot for a date night, or a small intimate group.
There is live jazz Wednesday through Saturday nights.
Chocolate Secrets does have a full event calendar on their website, so check it out.
3926 Oak Lawn
Tuesday Nite Jazz in Dallas
Robert Swann produces the Tuesday Nite Jazz series at the historic St. Paul United Methodist Church. Robert is a well known figure in the Dallas jazz scene and recruites top musicians for his weekly series. Needless to say the acoustics at St. Pauls are excellent.
1816 Routh Street
Buzzbrews is a tiny coffee shop that is a surprising venue for great jazz in Dallas. On Sunday nights, you can catch the Rebel Alliance Jazz Ensemble, an 18 piece big band, packed into this unexpected Deep Ellum location. The place is small, so if you are sound sensitive, you may want to sit in the back or take some ear plugs – you’ll still be able to hear, believe me! This music is fun and energetic – you’ll probably want to dance, and I’m pretty sure if you can find a spot, no one would mind. At the very least, you’ll be bouncing in your seats.
2801 Commerce St.
The Balcony Club, located above the Lakewood Theater in East Dallas, is a long time favorite, attracting an all ages crowd. On weekends there’s usually a bridal party or two, and always plenty of neighborhood locals. It attracts the famous and the not so famous, but it’s always friendly.
Recently updated and remodeled the stage has been moved away from the entrance and some groovy tables and booths have been added – good for getting cozy. The new stage is consistent with the art deco architecture of the space and looks great.
The website posts a calendar, but seriously, just go. It’s one of the coolest venues in Dallas, and they are open seven nights a week. Any night at the Balcony Club is a good night.
The Balcony Club
1825 Abrams (look for the art deco Lakewood Theater marquee)
STONEY’S WINE LOUNGE
Stoney’s has a very small cover charge on weekends. Very small. I also discovered that Diane is an excellent jazz singer.
Stoney’s Wine Lounge. Stoney and his wife Diane have been a part of the Dallas music scene for a long time, and have created a cozy neighborhood wine bar where live jazz happens on Friday and Saturday nights. They know pretty much everyone in the Dallas jazz world, and more than a few people internationally, which means they get great players at Stoney’s. I love the comfortable sofas scattered around and the variety of tables to accommodate couples or larger groups.
They have a small but select offering of wines by the glass, bottle, or to take home. I also like that they serve some appetizers to go with the wines – very civilized. There’s an easygoing atmosphere and good wine selection, which makes this one of my favorites.
Stoney’s Wine Lounge
SCAT JAZZ LOUNGE
Scat Jazz Lounge is located in Fort Worth (about thirty minutes from downtown Dallas). If you are in the area and want more of a big city feeling (think NYC or LA), but off the grid club experience, the Scat is the place to go. I loved the retro vibe, the small room, and the speakeasy atmosphere. While it would be a great place for a date, it’s also fine if you’re just with friends or on your own.
Top local players like Shelley Carol are regulars here.
If you’ve never seen and heard Shelley Carol romancing the saxophone you are missing out. Shelley was the band leader for Duke Ellington Orchestra and is an icon on the jazz scene. I recently discovered that he also plays flute and sings! He’s an absolute monster. One of the most talented and accessible musicians anywhere.
Another important detail about the Scat: you can’t find it! That’s right, the entrance is down a small alley and then you have to take an elevator to the main entrance. The hipster in you will love it. Be sure to check the calendar as they are not open every night and some nights there is a cover charge – it’s worth it! If the Scat Lounge were in Dallas, I’d be a regular.
Scat Jazz Lounge
111 W. 4th Street #11
Table 13 is a new addition to the restaurant/lounge scene, with live music six nights a week. The owners aim to create a 1960s Vegas vibe with plush quilted leather booths and acts like Ricki Derrick and Hunter Sullivan. The menu has some traditional retro offerings, including cocktails like the Scorpion, Zombie, Manhattan, and Brandy Alexander. Or dine on Steak Diane, Chicken Cordon Bleu and Shrimp Scampi (an old favorite of mine), and much more. The owners watch over every detail to make sure this is a unique dining and listening experience.
I went on a Thursday night and the place was packed, but the crowd thinned out around 10:00 pm. making it perfect for enjoying the music with fewer distractions.
Go for dinner with a date, or just go to the bar and hang out while romantic ballads, piano, or jazz classics fill the air with sounds that will take you back to the days of the Bratpack.
Happy Hour daily from 4:00 – 7:00 pm.
4812 Beltline Rd.
Located in the Deep Ellum neighborhood near downtown Dallas, The Freeman has live music seven nights a week and several different musical options each night! This is a great place to catch a variety of styles of music and some of the country’s best musicians. I recently saw guitar virtuoso Todd Parsnow there with Shelley Carol, and once again was blown away by the talent in Dallas, Texas. Todd toured with Grammy winner, Roy Hargrove. Do check the calendar because the Freeman hosts musicians from all over the world and it’s a chance to see some amazing talent in a really intimate venue.
The atmosphere is ultra casual and the stage is right up front. For the best seats get there early and sit at the bar or the tables on the side near the stage. Jazz, Swing, and Dixieland daily from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.
The Freeman has a full kitchen and dining room serving traditional New Orleans style cajun recipes. Happy Hour daily from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
2626 Commerce St.
EDDIE V’S JAZZ IN DALLAS
This place bills itself a jazz lounge with live music seven nights a week. Dallas jazz singer and pianist Melanie Skybell told me about Eddie V’s and is a regular on the entertainment calender there. Melanie is a talented composer as well and plays a lot of original material, along with crowd – pleasers from Ellington Songbook.
Happy Hour is usually very busy, and folks often drink cosmos or martinis with the appetizers on the happy hour menu. Later the lounge turns into a plush dinner spot. If you fancy dancing in front of the band or just chilling and listening, you’ll be right at home at Eddie V’s. By-the-way, Eddie V’s has locations across the country. Check it out.
4023 Oak Lawn Ave.#110
I’ll be adding more places as I have the time to review them and updating as well. Love to hear your comments and recommendations. What have I missed? And if you’re in Dallas, let me know – we can go on a Dallas photo walk and then listen to some jazz!