My Personal Guide to Best Jazz Clubs of St. Petersburg
Our country is famous for wonderful musicians and they do not necessarily play classical music only. There are so many talented jazz musicians in Russia! Where can you listen to live jazz in St. Petersburg?
I am a great fan of jazz and let me share with you some of my favourite addresses in this post!
I will start with a place that stands at the origins of the Russian Jazz. It was founded by a famous jazz musician David Goloschekin, who first started seeding jazz on Russian (at that time Soviet) soil. Although he and other prominent Soviet jazzmen had been active since the 1960-s, the Philharmonics was opened only in 1989 and it was a first place in the Soviet Union, dedicated to jazz entirely.
It has two halls – the Grand Hall with a big stage, stalls and balconies with tables, and a much more intimate Ellington (or Small) Hall with just a few tables and a bar. The Grand Hall may probably remind you the legendary places like Ronnie Scott's in London in a way that it is also very spacious and with a certain entourage.
St. Petersburg Jazz Philharmonics has a museum that will tell you about the formation of jazz in our country.
In the Soviet Era, there was a cinema (although the house is not Soviet, it was built before the revolution) and hence the balconies of the Grand Hall and Soviet Stalin-Empire decorations inside, as well as the layout typical for cinemas in our country.
I would recommend you the Small Hall of Jazz Philharmonics for live jams with talented musicians in an informal atmosphere.
Food/drinks: In both halls, you can order some snacks/tapas, drinks and desserts, no hot food is available
Doors open: Most concerts start at 7 pm and there are also special weekend noon performances for kids!
Entrance Policy – Entrance is payed, average ticket prices from 1200 RUB, available in the box office of Jazz Philharmonics or on their website
The Hat! Belinskogo, 9
This American-vintage-style bar with live jams every night has been the most popular jazz venue of St. Petersburg for many years! It was founded by Billy Novik from Billy's Band, a local musician an entrepreneur, who is very much inspired by Tom Waits in his style and even appearance.
The bar is small and stylish. It has only a couple of tables, always booked for musicians and dear guests of the club, general visitors can either stand in front of the stage or seat on high chairs around the bar or along the wall. In my opinion, the nicest area in the Hat is on elevation right behind the bar – you will get the best view of the stage and acoustics from that spot, and a seat on high chairs if you are lucky enough!
The Hat is the place where local jazz musicians and singers come for a jam every night, and quite often they are joined by the guests from other countries and cities. They come there after their performances at other venues, so, as you might guess, most jams start really late – at 10.30 pm or even later.
Apart from night jams, Hat hosts jams with young musicians on certain days, and they normally start earlier – at around 8 pm.
Do not expect a playbill from this establishment – the participants of most gigs are announced on the very day of their performance and some foreign guests announced in advance may in fact never come.
On the other hand, the Hat for might have some really nice surprises for you – you never know!
Keep in Mind:
The Hat is really popular and it may super-packed on Friday and Saturday nights, and during state holidays.
The toilets are shared by men and women, with saloon-style small doors that won't hide your head or legs
In the summer of 2021, the Hat also announced the opening of their roof, but as the concerts there got cancelled with enviable regularity, I can't tell you anything about it yet.
Food/drinks: Alcohol drinks, tea, water with lemon (usually for free), snacks only (and not necessarily available all night)
Doors open: At 7 pm. Jams start at 8 pm (not every day) and 10.30 pm
Entrance Policy: Right before the jams start - 300 RUB deposit, and you will be able to exchange it for drinks at the bar later. If you come earlier, you might not even need to pay a deposit
By the way, The Hat gets into Top 100/150 of best jazz clubs of the world regularly.
JFC Shpalernaya, 33
Another English name, where JFC currently stands for Just Friends Club, and another very intimate venue with great musicians. Since 1994 JFC is located in the school yard on Shpalernaya Street, a bit further away from ordinary touristic routes, but also in the central part of the city, close to Chernyshevskaya Metro Station or a 20 minutes' walk from The Hat.
JFC was opened with the help of Vladimir Kekhman, a very well-known businessman of St. Petersburg, who made a lot of money on JFC banana export company (hence the name of the club). Kekhman was always drawn to jazz, music and theatre, and his another very ambitious project is the renovation and rebranding of Mikhailovsky Opera and Ballet Company on Arts Square, currently one of the most prestigious in Russia.
Kekhman's name is associated with a lot of scandals – from cocaine found on his banana ships and bankruptcy of JFC banana company to being appointed the artistic director of Novosibirsk Theatre of Opera and Ballet by our ministry of culture instead of its previous director, who fell into disgrace after the new version of the play "Tannhäuser". Nevertheless, his achievements in the theatre and musical stage of St. Petersburg are evident.
JFC is located in a spacious school yard with the sports ground on always empty Shpalernaya Street. When you see a Soviet School from Stalin Era, be sure to turn into its yard – you will see the entrance to JFC on your right.
JFC has some really strong residents and guest bands performing there daily, and for that you might forgive them uncomfortable chairs, lack of food and shabby interior. Musicians at JFC often play their original music, and apart from all types of jazz you might also come there for some ethnic or folk motives.
Food/drinks: Alcohol and non-alcohol drinks and some really humble snacks that won't fill your stomach, so don't come there hungry
Doors open: At 7 pm. Gigs start at 7.30 pm
Entrance Policy: All gigs are ticketed, average ticket prices from 1100 RUB. You can buy a ticket on their website or book them by phone.
ETOBAR Vladimirsky Prospect, 14
ETOBAR, literally "this is bar", is a new and very cozy venue, located, again, in the yard. This time this is the yard of Lensoveta Theatre near Vladimirskaya Metro Station and just a few minutes away from Nevsky Prospect. The Hat and Jazz Philharmonic Hall are both really close to ETOBAR, in around a 10 minutes' walk in various directions.
ETOBAR has its own cuisine, so there you can also have lunch, dinner or even breakfast (they work from 10 am) while enjoying beautiful jazz music. ETOBAR features live gigs and jams every evening and you won't get disappointed, as they invite really good local musicians. The events are normally not-ticketed, but advance table booking is recommended, especially for Friday and Saturday!
Apart from really nice cuisine (for St. Petersburg), it also has a good choice of wine, so this is probably the most gastronomic jazz venue in our city!
In summer time ETOBAR also puts tables in the yard
Food/drinks: Variety of alcohol and non-alcohol drinks, starters, hot dishes and desserts
Doors open: Open daily from 10 am. Gigs start at 7.30 pm daily and, additionally, at 10.30 pm on Friday and Saturday
Entrance Policy: There are no tickets, but sometimes you are expected to spend a certain sum on food/drinks.
Other Jazz Venues of St. Petersburg:
Restaurant Solnce Sprava on roof of Art cluster Art Musa (literally art muse) on Vasilievsky Island. Working Thursday – Sunday from 12 pm, except for the days of private events
Address: 13 Line of Vasilievsky Island, 70, 5th floor
Advance booking is recommended, there might be a certain minimal spend per person during live gigs, no tickets are required
Restaurant Noisy River in huge grey concrete late Soviet building of Lenizdat on Fontanka River, close to beautiful Bolshoi Drama Theatre and most venues, mentioned above. Live gigs every evening from 8 pm, minimal spend per person or tickets. Not only jazz, also Latin-American music, blues, rock