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Image © Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club via Facebook

Long Live Soho: Best Jazz Bars on Greek Street

3 July 2019 | Eva de Valk

While the majority of Soho has struggled to fight off the forces of gentrification over the last couple of decades, Greek Street has proven itself particularly resilient. Greek Street’s slightly seedy charm sets it apart from its neighbouring streets. It is, in other words, the perfect place for a wander down Soho memory lane – and on Greek Street, that involves a lot of jazz.

First up is Jazz After Dark, where the late, great Amy Winehouse started her musical career. Despite its name, jazz is only one of the genres on the menu here alongside soul, funk and Latin, and as the venue champions up-and-coming artists from around the world, it’s the perfect place to expand your repertoire. If you don’t fancy squeezing yourself in on a busy Friday evening – this place is as popular as it is tiny – you can always stop by during the day, when it doubles as an art gallery showcasing owner Sam Shaker’s paintings of his famous patrons.

Across the road from Jazz After Dark you’ll find a proper relic of old Soho hidden behind the unmarked blue door of number 57. The basement is home to a bar officially called the New Evaristo Club, sometimes also known as The Hideout, but mostly referred to as Trisha’s. It’s a place where the wine comes in two varieties (red or white) and where the spirits have been described as ‘paint stripper-like’, but you go primarily to mingle with the colourful locals and to listen to live jazz on intermittent weekends. True to form, Trisha’s does not have a website so information on the when and who can be pretty hard to come by, but their Facebook page does occasionally list upcoming events.

Sadly, not all the jazz venues of Greek Street are as tenacious as Trisha’s. Next to Jazz After Dark is what used to be the office of Acid Jazz Records, who are now based in Bethnal Green; Soul Jazz Records were located on the corner of Bateman Street before their move to nearby Broadwick Street. Their record store there, Sounds of the Universe, should definitely be on your to do list before you leave Soho.

Finally, you can’t say you’ve done jazz in Soho without a visit to Ronnie Scott’s, for which you’ll have to venture around the corner into Frith Street. One of the oldest jazz bars in the world, this place has hosted many of the greats, from Ella Fitzgerald to Miles Davis. Although it still regularly draws big names, you can also catch a great selection of new and upcoming artists here. Do bear in mind that many shows sell out in advance though, so it pays to plan your visit beforehand. Or just rock up on Saturday 20 July this year, when the venue celebrates its sixtieth birthday with a free street party. It might be a historical venue, but jazz at Ronnie Scott’s – and in Soho – is still alive and kicking.
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