Our favourite thing to do in any new city is find some live music. And jazz is the international language. Cape Town has a huge jazz tradition, and over the years a number of great jazz clubs have come and gone. If a jazz muso is coming through town, these places are where you can expect to see them play. Check out their sites for some authentic local jazz and a great smattering of the best international acts in town.
- The Crypt at St Georges Cathedral – in our opinion, this live jazz venue in the heart of Cape Town offers the best mix of accessible jazz and decent food, with top marks for atmosphere. The Crypt is a real crypt, in the basement of historic St George’s Cathedral in Wale Street, at the centre of the city bowl. Huge white stone arches supporting the mass of the cathedral swoop above you while you sip your drink in the perfectly pitched dimness of the club. Most acts are quartets or quintets, and there’s a good mix of vocal acts too. The menu is straightforward and not too lengthy, there’s a great mix of tables for two and large tables for parties, and it’s always possible to get close enough to the stage to really focus on the music, or to sit back and enjoy the party at the back of the room. Service is always good.
- Straight No Chaser in Buitenkant Street – some more serious music vibes going on here. You don’t talk during sessions and some of South Africa’s more cerebral musos perform here. The club is tiny so book early, and no food is available (although Diva’s next door serves a decent pizza). The accoustics are superb and it’s a completely immersive sound experience. Some of the best international acts passing through town are booked here, so keep an eye out. But don’t expect to be able to catch up with your best friend you haven’t seen in FOREVER. This place is about the music. And maybe the whisky. Jeans and corduroy jackets are a common sight.
- Pigalle is the most formal live jazz venue on our list – more mainstream than the Crypt and SNC, and a winner for business functions. It’s a great venue for a stylish evening out, with a dance floor and superb seafood and steak. The menu has a subtle Portuguese influence a great cigar lounge and for special occasions a private dining room is available. Definitely worth dressing up a bit for dinner and jazz at Pigalle.