Team Blake’s Guide to Jazz in Kansas City
Kansas City and jazz are a match made in heaven. First flourishing in the 1920s along 12th and 18th streets Downtown, jazz is still a staple to Kansas City’s nightlife even in the current age. As Kansas City ambassadors, Team Blake is ready to give you the inside scoop on jazz in Kansas City, from its historic roots to the can’t-miss clubs around the city.
The Beginning of Jazz in Kansas City
Beginning in the 1920s, jazz took over the Kansas City music scene. Even while prohibition was strictly enforced across the states, musicians still flocked to the area to perform at dance halls and nightclubs. Legends like Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Mary Lou Williams, and Duke Ellington all set foot in Kansas City to join in the celebration of a music genre focused on complex harmony, syncopated rhythms, and dynamic improvisation. At its height, Kansas City hosted jazz in over 200 venues citywide, from the Gem Theater to The Blue Room. To this day, the Gem Theater continues to stand as a crown jewel of the 18th & Vine District and The Blue Room is open on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
The American Jazz Museum
There’s much more to learn about the intricate history of jazz in Kansas City. Luckily, we have just the place to help! The American Jazz Museum is located right on 18th street in the 18th and Vine Neighborhood. The museum is full of rare photos, memorabilia, and the stories of the famous jazz musicians of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. True to its purpose, the American Jazz Museum hosts several programs and events celebrating jazz music.
Now that you have a brief history lesson of jazz in Kansas City, you’re probably ready to hit the town and hear it for yourself. Luckily, we have the perfect list of jazz venues you can visit to get your fix.
Green Lady Lounge
Rest assured, there is one place in the city you can rely on 365 days a year for jazz music. Green Lady Lounge, located in the Crossroads Art District, is known for its notable musicians, chic, moody decor, and swinging atmosphere. For just $5 at the door, you can immerse yourself in rich Kansas City jazz, oftentimes on two different floors. The cocktail menu also features unique cocktails that go beyond the usual manhattan or martini.
If you find that Green Lady Lounge has hit its capacity, don’t fret. Just one door down you can try your luck at Black Dolphin. Open Thursday through Saturday, Black Dolphin’s layout focuses more on the stage with the bar located in the back of the club. You will be delighted to find that the same craft cocktails available at Green Lady, can also be purchased here.
The only thing better than Kansas City jazz and blues, may just be brunch with Kansas City jazz and blues. That’s where The Phoenix, located downtown in the Garment District, comes in. In addition to hosting a variety of musicians, The Phoenix offers a full menu, including a jazz brunch on Sundays. Built in 1888, the building sets on the National Historic Registry and was first called home to a club called Valerius Saloon in 1905. After being shuffled through a few proprietors, the space came to be The Phoenix in 1990.
The Majestic Restaurant and Jazz Club
Around since the Prohibition-era, The Majestic Restaurant and Jazz Club is “old school cool” come to life. Located in what is known as the Fitzpatrick Saloon Building, this location has been a part of the history of downtown Kansas City since 1909. During Prohibition, the Saloon was converted into a Haberdashery. This was only for appearances as the bar was moved into the basement to create a speakeasy which is now home to the Majestic’s Jazz Club. In addition to the Jazz Club, the Majestic is also known for its mouth-watering dry-aged Kansas City steaks. For cigar connoisseurs, The Majestic offers one more point of interest. Named for legendary political boss Tom Pendergast, who would meet at the building with the saloon’s original owner James Fitzpatrick, The Pendergast Club is a member-only club located inside the same building that features a curated collection of almost 400 whiskeys and a changing selection of cigars.
Lonnie’s Reno Club
Dinner and a show? Yes, please! Relish in the history of Kansas City jazz music and a delectable pre-fixe menu at Lonnie’s Reno Club, located inside the Ambassador Hotel Kansas City. In collaboration with local Kansas City jazz musician and singer Lonnie McFadden, the restaurant blends historic and luxe style, with classic and Prohibition-era cocktails and refined cuisine. For larger events, you can rent the club. Did someone say swanky holiday party?!
Trust Your Kansas City Ambassadors, Team Blake!
Just like jazz, Team Blake sounds like sweet harmonies when it comes to guiding you around Kansas City and real estate! Our helpful agents are ready to help you with all of life’s needs, from selling your home fast to putting together the perfect staycation to get you out of the house. While we can go on all day about the best places to grab Italian food in the city or the best murals, we want to hear from you!
Let us know your favorite places for a night out or what guide you’d like for Team Blake to tackle next. We love hearing from our clients, so reach out today!