A Jazz Fans Guide To Hamburg

Until recently many jazz fans outside Hamburg were unaware that the city is in any sense a jazz town. Other than the ocassional trad jazz band influenced by the musical tastes of the British occupying forces after WWII, jazz seemed destined to remain an imported item here much like baseball hats and Hires root beer. To be sure there were jazz clubs over the years like the River Kasematten which catered to swing fans and tourists on the Reeperbahn. But who could have ever imagined that a German city reputed for its commercial prowess would become a center for the new jazz explosion in Europe.

A closer look at the musical scene in Hamburg will reveal some interesting developments since the Kasematten terminated its live music policy years ago. The fertile soil of general respect for the arts in Germany and a relatively affluent population in this thriving port on the Elbe provided the basics. Coupled with a love of swing predating the last war, jazz associations, the mentoring of young gifted musicians by resident american pros and a generation of twenty and thirty somethings which has tired of plastic synthesized music the jazz venues are increasingly popular once again. Its all here – the young lions fresh from music school eager to prove themselves, the seasoned professionals like Herb Geller with world class reputations, and a growing list of places to hear jazz every night. If youre not already in touch with jazz in Hamburg your missing out on an exciting opportunity to feel good.

When you’re in Hamburg here is a sample of the best places to hear live Jazz:

Birdland Jazz Club, Gärtnerstr. 122 – Live jazz on weekends and jam sessions every Thursday night
Nancy’s Galerie, Dammtor Bahnhof, Hamburg centrum – Live bands on Friday nights starting at 10 PM
The Cotton Club, Alter Steinweg 10, 20459 Hamburg – Traditional Jazz every week.
Hadley’s Restaurant,Beim Schlump 84a – live Jazz each week.

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