By Kelsey A. Glennon
My dream date?
- Stroll through the streets of New York’s Greenwich village.
- Relocate to a nearby jazz club, one that either requires going downstairs into hazy bohemian lounge, or upstairs to a breezy rooftop.
- Spend the night enjoying classic, improvisational jazz music.
- Make one more stop for wine at a French bar and bistro (extra points if there’s baked brie involved).
- End the date strolling hand-in-hand through Central Park.
Except, this isn’t New York City.
Rather than make you wish you were living in the Empire City, I’m here to introduce you to the soulful sounds of Orlando’s best jazz musicians. Because it’s not just NY, New York that boasts talented live musicians and the artistic demand to keep them playing. Central Florida hosts some great live music venues with unique sounds and atmosphere of their own, found jamming throughout the week.
Use my catered list (created in no particular order) to craft your own date night, centered around supporting our city’s live jazz music scene:
Timucua White House
Located just off of Kaley Street in cozy Delaney Park, Timucua boasts visiting Jazz Artists and Trios (in addition to an array of other live music) in a jazzy atmosphere. Best to check in with their live calendar so as not to miss jazz gems as they stop through Orlando.
Though new(ish) to the jazz scene, Jazz Tastings is going ahead and claiming the title of “Luxury” jazz venue in Orlando. Take a look at their full calendar and get together a small group of double dates so you can order a spread of tapas while enjoying the night in their “intimate, relaxing” lounge atmosphere.
Winter Park Beer Co.
Formerly “Taps From Scratch,” this little Audubon Park storefront has the homey feel of hanging out at your friend’s house. Add in two nights of solid jazz music and you’ve got yourself the ultimate house party. This intimate venue in this hip(ster) part of town makes for a laid back night centered around local beer and billiards in the next room. Winter Park Beer Co. features two nights of jazz: a jazz jam on Tuesdays described as “phychadelic” and more “session” style allowing guest musicians to hop in and out of sets. While on Thursdays the Dave Sheffield Trio entertains with old standards and a more classic style.
Cafe Da Vinci
Not too far up I4 from Downtown Orlando lies an underrated Central Florida suburb, DeLand, home to this funky live music venue featuring an outdoor patio area that’s both intimate and spacious. Though more New Orleans in style and atmosphere, Cafe Da Vinci hosts “Jazz in the Courtyard” every Tuesday.
This fine “Prime Seafood” restaurant gives Jazz Tastings a run for their money. Though I haven’t been myself, it seems Eddie V’s is the kind of place where jazz musicians play in suits and fresh Florida seafood is brought straight to your table. If their four-course menu is any indication of the nightly music, then they’ve got this high-end, jazz-infused dining experience down to an art. Their entertainment schedule in the V Lounge looks like there’s never a quiet night, always a good sign.
Heidi’s Jazz Club
A Central Florida feature since ’92, Heidi’s is just a short drive to the Space Coast where there is “… live music every Wednesday through Sunday… and Heidi’s Open Jam Session every Sunday evening starting at 7pm.” Consider yourself as a jazz aficionado? Heidi’s website hosts a page dedicated to featuring its musicians, so you can develop your taste and find your following.
Natura Coffee & Tea
Every Wednesday is Jazz Night starting at 9pm at Natura. You’ll find a “young” jazz loving crowd here due to its proximity to UCF, but nonetheless—musical talent knows no age. Stop in here on Wednesday nights to find the next up-and-comer.
And don’t forget, Get Your Jazz On, an outdoor jazz series at The Alfond Inn, will likely return in the fall. On these nights, guests can listen to jazz on this Winter Park hotel’s lawn as well as enjoy a pig roast feast and wine tastings. Cost is $30 per person including valet parking.
Need more ideas? Find Central Florida’s ultimate live jazz performance calendar at www.wucf.ucf.edu. Jazz isn’t just for night owls; here you’ll find Jazz Brunch and Jazz Jams at some of your favorite local cafes.
So grab your date, get a glass (bottle?) of wine and enjoy the jazz talents of CFL. And if you’re missing that part of the date where you stroll through the streets of New York, don’t worry, Orlando has a Central Park, too.
Where do you find the best local jazz musicians playing in the City Beautiful? What do you think of these venues? Know any secret jazz hideaways we’re missing?
Feature image credit: Bud, Not Buddy