There are two distinct sides to Bristol's jazz scene and in the middle a line that's rarely crossed...
Jazz in Bristol's Large Venues
On one side are the (usually larger) international jazz events, typically at venues like Colston Hall and St Georges. These are great venues to see contemporary jazz in Bristol with recent (2009 - 2010) highlights including Portico Quartet, Cinematic Orchestra and the Neil Cowley Trio. Live jazz in these Bristol venues has more of a concert feel, almost always seated and usually around the £15 mark depending on the seats. Bristol is fortunate to be a key stop over in most UK jazz tours and it is always worth keeping an eye on who's playing when and where and get jazz tickets early for decent seats.
Jazz in Bristol's Small Venues
The otherside of Bristol's live jazz scene couldn't be more different. Bristol is home to some awesome jazz musicians, many of international standard playing international gigs. What's great about Bristol is you can often catch these artists while they're at home often for free. Notable examples include Daisy Palmer (drummer - Goldfrapp), James Bateman (sax - Badbone & Co, Ronnie Scotts) and James Morton (sax - Pee Wee Ellis, The Herbaliser). Unlike the large tours at the bigger venues jazz gigs in Bristol pubs are more organic and unpredictable. With so many quality musicians playing in so many different bands or improvising with different artists, live jazz in Bristol is constantly evolving. When looking for whats on jazz in Bristol it's often more important to consider which individual musicians are playing where, rather than browsing by band or headliner. At live music events in Bristol pubs for the best views you'll need to stand but sometimes tables if you're lucky enough to get one..
Where to see live jazz in Bristol
The whats on listings to the left show all upcoming jazz gigs in Bristol but it's still worth mentioning some consistent venues. Always check whats on at the Coronation Tap on Tuesdays and Sundays, (usually jazz or blues, always free). Other key jazz venues in Bristol include the Old Duke (live music every night, always free) and the Grain Barge (gigs every Friday, around £3).