Harry Houdini could pick up pins with his eyelashes. Lichtenstein is the world’s largest exporter of false teeth. And one more surprising fact: St Petersburg is a hotbed for jazz.
While the Russian cultural capital is known the world over for its mastery of ballet and prowess in opera, the city is hardly less infatuated with jazz and blues. These days the jazz bars in St Petersburg, which range from intimate hole-in-the-walls like JFC Jazz Club and 48 Chairs, to the Jazz Philharmonic Hall, host some of the world’s finest players. So, sit back and enjoy the tunes at the city’s seven best jazz bars.
The Hat Bar
Whisky (more than 30 varieties, mind), live music and an often-packed dance floor – what more does a Petersburger need? At The Hat Bar (no, we’re not quite sure what hats have to do with it), you’ll happily find all three. This isn’t your fusty old jazz bar: instead, performers pouting into trombones and warbling on clarinets are centimetres away from the audience. Arrive earlier in the night to ensure there’s still enough space to dance.
JFC Jazz Club
Sultry, snug, and more than a little reminiscent of Manhattan’s finest downtown jazz joints, no wonder moody JFC Jazz Club is ranked among the best jazz bars in St Petersburg. But just because “jazz” is in the name, that doesn’t mean that’s all that’s in store here: the club also specialises in blues, swing, ragtime, bluegrass, and other genres with more than a touch of Americana about them. Musicians do come from stateside – as well as numerous other countries – to play at this respected address.
Jazz Philharmonic Hall
A jazz lover’s staple since 1989, the Jazz Philharmonic Hall is perhaps the most refined venue on our list. A petite, bi-level theatre, the hall transports guests back in time – the tables, each illuminated by their own lamp, feel straight out of the 1960s. The venue’s also got serious jazz world cred: violinist and composer David Goloshchekin is behind its founding, while the smaller Ellington Hall commemorates one of the Duke’s legendary St Petersburg appearances back in the 1970s.