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A jazz musician playing at the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival in Pennsylvania
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Hear the Jazz

Experience the USA

Jazz is an American original, an innovation crafted in New Orleans, Louisiana, which changed the course of music around the world. It encompasses the off-beat lilts of swing, the complexity of bebop and the inventive melodies of improv. Whether played by titans like Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis, or unknowns in the smallest of clubs, jazz is all about expression, emotion and living life to the fullest.

Explore Jazz

Frenchmen Street

Tourists may flock to Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, but jazz aficionados make the short walk to check out the music on Frenchman Street. It’s standing room only at the Spotted Cat Music Club, which charges no cover for traditional jazz shows and the occasional blues set. A few steps away, the Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro serves up Creole grub and modern jazz in a 19th century building. Visit nearby attractions like the New Orleans Jazz Museum, New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum and the Jax Brewery, which features a museum, shops and a view of the Mississippi River.

American Jazz Museum

The American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, tells the story of jazz through visual arts, interactive exhibits and films. But this museum puts also puts the music on display, showcasing the best of today’s jazz artists in the Blue Room Jazz Club and the Gem Theater. Visitors will want to check out the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which is just next door, to learn about the stars and stories from the legendary league. Fans of old-school, real-deal Kansas City barbecue should try Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque, which serves up mouth-watering plates with white bread and fries.

San Jose Jazz Summer Fest

Held annually in early August, the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest launched in 1990 as a modest event with an attendance of about 10,000. It has since grown into the largest free jazz festival in the USA, featuring multiple stages in the heart of San Jose, California, less than an hour south of San Francisco. Attendees can hear everything from west coast fusion and funk to free-form and cutting-edge jazz – and can even take a swing lesson on the side. The festival huddles around the city’s restaurant district, which includes the highly rated Original Joe’s, known for traditional steak and Italian dishes, and The City Fish, which delivers local seafood in a casual setting.

Cezanne

Listening is required and conversation is discouraged at Cezanne, the top-rated jazz joint in Houston, Texas. The calendar includes everything from local artists to global acts. The cozy club also offers a menu of traditional dishes in the Black Labrador pub downstairs. During the day, check out the nearby Buffalo Soldiers National Museum which tells the stories of African Americans who have fought in military conflicts. Or visit the Houston Museum of Natural Science and its Cockrell Butterfly Center, which includes a walk through a natural butterfly habitat.

Louis Armstrong House Museum

Time won’t swallow Louis Armstrong’s home in Queens, New York, ever since the legendary trumpeter’s wife Lucille gave it to the city. The Louis Armstrong House was declared a New York City Landmark in 1988 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the museum exhibits an array of recordings, photos, instruments, letters and artwork. After touring the museum, savor traditional Puerto Rican flavors like roasted pork and codfish fritters at Rincon Criollo. Other attractions include the New York Hall of Science, which boasts more than 450 exhibits in what was once the World’s Fair pavilion.

Regattabar at the Charles Hotel

Jazz lovers are looking for great music, and the Regattabar at the Charles Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, delivers with a lineup of up-and-comers playing everything from improv to gypsy jazz to flamenco. The bar provides unforgettable sophistication with one-of-a-kind cocktails, sumptuous snacks and floor-to-ceiling windows facing Harvard Square. For after the show, Night Market, a lively restaurant a few blocks away, has unconventional Asian-style tapas and sake-based cocktails. Early U.S. history is well within reach as well, with many museums and landmarks surrounding both Harvard Yard and Harvard Square.

Baker’s Keyboard Lounge

Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in Detroit, Michigan, hits all the sweet spots for a jazz club: intimate yet cozy (99 seats with retro furnishings), delicious soul food (catfish, fried pork chops and peach cobbler) and a history that includes legendary performers (John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald). Today, you’ll hear everything from piano-led rave-ups to bluesy guitar jazz to sit-ins by world famous jazz artists like Sandy Patton. During the day, the renowned Detroit Zoo, with its own mini-railroad, is a short ride north.

Reno Jazz Festival

The Reno Jazz Festival, held at the University of Nevada’s School of the Arts, has education at its core, bringing together music students, educators and top-notch jazz players for three days of workshops, jamming, competitions and, of course, performances. Festival-goers can hear high school and college jazz bands from around the country as well as touring jazz artists. In and around Reno, Nevada, check out the Wilbur D. May Museum and its exotic artifacts, arboretum and botanical gardens. For nature lovers, the sparkling blue waters of Lake Tahoe are just under an hour away.

A jazz band playing at Nocturne Jazz and Supper Club in Denver, Colorado
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