Among music fans worldwide, Geneva is renowned for its thriving jazz scene. And deservedly so, with atmospheric clubs, concert halls and outdoor venues setting the stage for local and international artists. The Hotel d’Angleterre is no exception, with a whole host of jazz musicians making an appearance among the wide range of music performed daily in the hotel’s elegant Leopard Bar. To fully embrace this side to life in the city, follow our guide to seeking out the best live jazz in Geneva.
Encompassing a cocktail bar, restaurant and concert hall, Chat Noir is a venue you could spend the entire night in. The basement concert hall is the setting for an eclectic array of performances, with many well known jazz musicians taking to the stage. Over its 25-year history, the Black Cat Club has hosted thousands of artists from across the globe.
The association AMR Southern Alps – known as Sud des Alpes in Geneva – hosts a number of concerts too, while endeavoring to encourage and promote improvised music, through the development jazz and Afro-American music. The association organises jam sessions, workshops and shows in the Sud des Alpes venue on Rue des Alpes. In addition to events by AMR, the association of jazz music in Geneva, AGMJ, hosts concerts to promote jazz in all its forms. Performances are put on at the association’s principle venue on Rue de Carouge.
The popular local bar Mr Pickwick may be primarily known as Switzerland’s oldest pub, having opened in 1969, but it has also gained a reputation as one of the city’s most outstanding music venues. Mr Pickwick hosts live jazz sets, among a diverse range of genres, Thursday through Saturday each week. Check the up-to-date event schedule to find what’s on and when.
Before even setting foot on the streets of Geneva, stop by Montreux Jazz Café, which is situated within the airport’s arrival hall. Set up by Montreux Jazz Festival founder Claude Nobs, the jazz café combines laidback fine dining with live music, while paying homage to the jazz festival that’s become one of the largest events in Switzerland.
Geneva, and indeed Switzerland as a whole, truly comes to life throughout the summer months when both locals and visitors embrace the great outdoors while making the most of the festival season.
Montreux Jazz Festival is one of the city’s most major events, with artists flying in to perform throughout the month of July. And as the 2016 edition marks the festival’s 50th year, it’s set to be the biggest yet, with a whirlwind of special projects and artist collaborations honouring the occasion. Shows will be taking place at concert halls, within parks and at jazz clubs across the city, not to forget onboard the Montreux Jazz Boats and Jazz Trains, and at the late night after-shows. For even more of an immersion, sign up for one of the workshops.
For out of season celebrations, a trip can be coincided with the March event Festival Voix de Fete, which aims to put French musical expression into the spotlight, with a focus on new music. Take your pick from performances in the packed festival schedule to discover French artists like the jazz composer and musician June Milo, the jazz-inspired urban poet JAAQ and musician Jazzy Bazz.
Whether you’re visiting out of high season or during one of the city’s great festivals, it’s easy to see why Geneva is at the centre of the Switzerland’s jazz scene. On your time in Geneva delve into this side to the Swiss city’s cultural identity, while staying at your home away from home, the Hotel d’Angleterre.
Header image: Get to know Geneva’s jazz scene © iStock / Chris Schmidt