Despite how much Thailand‘s pop music industry is growing in popularity around the world, its capital Bangkok is seeing an increasing appetite for jazz. Even the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej was an accomplished jazz musician and composer himself back in the early to late 19th century. Fast forward to today, and you’ll find quality jazz being performed every day at crowded bars and elegant hotel venues throughout the city.
Founded more than three decades ago in 1985, Brown Sugar is celebrated as one of the oldest and best jazz and blues club in not just the Old City, but the whole of Bangkok. Local and international acts play regularly here, and regulars include contestants from The Voice and a nine-piece big band Big to the Future. Coffee shop by day, the space transforms into a full-fledged blues and jazz club from 9pm serving classic Thai fare and crafty drinks to groove to.
Brown Sugar is located at 469 Phrasumen Road, Bawornniwet, Bangkok, Thailand, +66 89 499 1378. Open Sun-Thu 5pm – 1am, Fri-Sat 5pm – 2am.
You wouldn’t expect a place like this in the basement of the shiny Fenix Novotel Hotel, but here it is in all-out 1920s Shanghai speakeasy glory. Once you’ve cosied up with and food (they make a very good chicken noodle soup), sit back on plush sofas and immerse in a variety of jazz bands. Oh, don’t be surprise when costumed performers start climbing on swings and above the bar, and we mean that literally.
Maggie Choo’s is located at Fenix Novotel, 320 Maha Nakhon 10500 Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok, Thailand, p. +66 91 772 2144. Open daily 7.30pm – 2am.
Jazz Happens was started by a group of lecturers (how cool is that!) at the fine arts-focused Silapakorn University, including one of Thailand’s most prominent pianists, Nu Vudthivichai. This little boutique is where you’ll find a contemporary jazz experience showcasing young musical talents from over the city, whether it’s graduates from the university’s jazz faculty or contestants on The Voice. Grab a beer in hand and start tapping away.
Jazz Happens is located at Phra Athit Rd, Bangkok, Thailand, p. +66 2 282 9934. Open Mon-Wed, Fri-Sat 7pm – 1am. Closed Thu.
The Bamboo Bar
You might recognise this spot from The Bar Awards Bangkok 2019, when it took the top spot for ‘Bar of the Year’ and ‘Hotel Bar of the Year’. Turns out, it’s quite the spot for classic jazz too. With inventive award-winning cocktails and charming 19th century décor, The Bamboo Bar plays host to local and internationally-renowned musicians six nights a week, having even seeing the likes of Eric Clapton, Louise Armstrong, and Mick Jagger in its patronage.
The Bamboo Bar is located at 48 Oriental Avenue, Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, Thailand, p. +66 2 659 9000. Open Sun-Thu 5pm – 1am, Fri-Sat 5pm – 2am.
Dumbo Jazz & Vinyl Bar
If daily live jazz on a raucous rooftop sounds like your kind of thing, make your way to Dumbo for colourful wall paintings, fairy lights, and quality gypsy jazz from groups such as Kongtoon& trio and Django Reinhardt. It’s inspired by the Dumbo district in New York, even the food menu is filled with thoughtful American recipes — think cheesy shrimp penne, buffalo wings, and saucy ribs spiced up to suit the taste of Thai people.
Dumbo Jazz & Vinyl Bar is located at 490/5 Paholyothin Rd, +66 94 560 7222. Open daily 5pm – 12am.
The Iron Fairies
Designed to look like a bar right out from a fairytale, Iron Fairies sees live jazz bands every night from 9pm, and an open mic for pop star-hopefuls on Mondays. Once you get past the bottles of fairy dust and wrought iron staircases, you’ll get to experience classic jazz and soul standards that most people will recognise. If you’re lucky, the vocalist will slither down the spiral staircase to make a scene will their high notes. It’s something you’re bound to remember, unless you’ve had one too many of their absinthe martinis. Read our review here.
The Iron Fairies is located at 394 Soi Sukhumvit 55, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, Thailand, p. +66 99 918 1600. Open daily 6pm – 2am.
The Living Room
This sophisticated lounge at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit is a suave venue for live jazz of the smooth and easy-listening variety, from the dynamic Randy Cannon Group to the soulful crooner Jittawat. Heck, even the masterful cocktails here are named after jazz standards, like the peachy vodka-based Fly Me to the Moon. One of their highlights is the Sunday Jazzy Brunch, where you gorge on gourmet fare to the tune of international jazz stars.
The Living Room is located at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, Sukhumvit Rd., 02-649-8353. Open Sun-Fri 9pm – 12am, Sat 9pm – 12.30am.
Saxophone Pub is not the most luxurious of joints, but there’s a unique classiness that matches its long-standing reputation. Established back in 1987, you’ll be greeted by all kinds of jazz paraphernalia, from records to framed posters of old maestros. It’s also heavily favoured by locals, and you’ll often see Thai music legends like Koh Mr. Saxman, Lek T-Bone, and Neung Jakkawal on stage. Saxophone Pub is also a good place for a big meal — popular Thai dishes and a cold pitcher of Singha beer.
Saxophone Pub is located at 3/8 Phayathai Road Victory Monument, Bangkok, Thailand, p. +66 2 246 5472. Open daily 6pm – 2am.
Top Image: Jazz Happens