Since the 1930s Amsterdam has caught worldwide attention for its jazz scene. This music genre was first introduced to Dutch by American soldiers at the time of the First World War. Nowadays the city holds numerous jazz venues, including Bimhuis, one of the leading venues for jazz and improvised music in the world.
It is no accident, then, that this year Amsterdam celebrates the bond between its cultural inheritance and the current jazz scene. Although many events have been happening since the beginning of the year, it is from spring that most of the festivities blossom. The dOeK Festival, which will take place from 29 April to 4 May, gathers renowned jazz musicians who have a taste for improvisation. Bimhuis, as well as OT31, Zaal 100 and Splendor will host concerts by dOeK performers including All Ellington, Sun Seven and the Frank Gratkowski Quartet.
When speaking of Jazz in the Netherlands, it is impossible not to mention the North Sea Jazz Festival, which this year is expecting one of the kings of jazz music, Stevie Wonder, and Pharrell Williams, who is obviously expected to play his worldwide hit “Happy”. This summer festival comes around for three days from 12 July and takes place in Rotterdam.
The concerts go beyond the 23 venues listed to host the celebrations. Streets, shops and churches are also expected to receive performances, workshops and masterclasses. Concertgebow, the world renowned concert hall has six concerts scheduled to celebrate jazz music throughout 2014 – starting off with a free lunch concert on 16 April.
You can check the Amsterdam World Jazz City 2014 website for a complete list of venues and events, but here I selected five hot spots where you can enjoy live Jazz in Amsterdam throughout the whole year:
A ten minute walk from the central station, the Cotton Club is one of the oldest jazzbars in Amsterdam. Every Saturday afternoon you can head to this place for enjoyable live performances.
Around for over 60 years, this bar located in one of the most touristic areas in Amsterdam, right off Leidesplein, remains true to the jazz spirit introduced decades ago. Listen to classics every night – although Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday host particularly good performances.
In the heart of the trendy De Pijp, Badcuyp is a good destination for appreciating new talents. Pop in on Sunday nights to dine while listening to their tunes.
Vondelpark Open Air Theatre
From June to August the nicest park in town transforms itself in an arts venue. In 2014 celebrations will be on fire in view of the 40th anniversary of the Open Air Theatre and the 150th of the park. Check out their website to stay up-to-date with live jazz performances.
North Sea Jazz Club
For those who can’t attend the Rotterdam summer festival, you might find the jazz buzz you are looking for here. Later in the night, a club atmosphere looms.