Finding live jazz in São Paulo has never been a problem, but the city's relationship with jazz has begun to change over the last decade. Bars such as Madeleine in Vila Madalena, and Teta and Jazz nos Fundos in Pinheiros, have invested in charming spaces, from chic to rustic, to suit the tastes of jazz aficionados of every stripe.
Adding to this ensemble, the Jazz nos Fundos partners opened Jazz B, in July 2013, a few steps away from the Praça da República, and meanwhile, in Vila Madalena, QualCasa, a mix between a gallery and bar, with a space for weekend jazz concerts, opened on Rua Simão Alvares.
One of the biggest São Paulo openings of 2013, however, is the long-awaited bar Riviera (Avenida Paulista 2584, 3231 3705, rivierabar.com.br), which let the first expectant crowds flood through its doors at the end of September 2013. The businessman Facundo Guerra, partner at Lions Club, Yacht and Cine Joia, among others, and the superchef Alex Atala, owner of restaurants Dalva e Dito and the world-class D.O.M., are the duo at the helm. If that's not enough to keep your jazz hands from going idle, check out our full list of our favourite jazz bars in São Paulo below.
Rua Aspicuelta 201, Vila Madalena (2936 0616/ madeleine.com.br).
This cosy, alluring resto-bar attracts mostly attentively listening couples and groups of friends who can select from four welcoming spaces. The main hall, with exposed brick walls and images of architectural details of the old city centre, is front and centre to the stage, and perfect for groups of friends. The mezzanine and basement are ideal for those who prefer a more reserved environment, while the balcony is also available for group outings.
Real devotees should be sure to check out Thursday nights, with Hammond Grooves, a trio made up of Daniel Latorre on the Hammond B-3, with Wagner Vasconcelos on drums and Daniel Daibem on guitar. The latter presented Rádio Eldorado FM’s much-loved programme ‘Sala dos Professores’ from 2003-11, and though that programme is no more, part of the band’s appeal is in their inter-song musical chat, sharing a wealth of jazz knowledge.
Adding to the educational theme, the trio Groofboogaloo’s set, ‘A Musical Adventure’, traces the evolution of boogaloo (a type of danceable Latin jazz), and offers brief lessons on the influences of the subgenre – very popular in the USA in the 1960s – on funk and drum’n’bass.
Rua João Moura 1076, Pinheiros (3083 5975/ jazznosfundos.net). Metrô 2, Sumaré.
If the term ‘garage jazz’ exists, it might have been coined in this diminutive dive, which has invigorated the São Paulo jazz scene and won over a faithful audience in an experimental space tucked behind a parking lot on Rua João Moura. Its entryway isn’t visible from the street, and you need to pass through the car park and down a hallway to reach it, one of SP’s finest hidden gems.
The project began as a party for friends and remained a secret of sorts for years. ‘Not much has changed. We don't do much publicity. We understand that publicity is through word of mouth and also make sure that the house doesn’t exceed capacity [150 people],’ says employee Danilo Tavares, 23.
The dimly-lit, rustic space is filled with well-worn chairs and tables and works from artist and videographer Daniel Bernadinelli. Names from the international jazz circuit, like pianists Walter Lang from Germany, Ricardo Castellanos from Cuba and the French-Swiss quartet No Square, have all played here.
Rua General Jardim 43, Vila Buarque (3257 4290/ jazzb.net).
Jazz B is the happy result of Jazz nos Fundos’s pop-up appearance at Brahminha in 2012, which encouraged its partners to launch a location in the city centre, a few steps from the Praça da República. If you frequent Jazz nos Fundos, you’ll be surprised how easily you can stumble upon the new space – the house is plainly visible from the street, a stark contrast from the Pinheiros hideaway that spawned this jazz joint.
The venue, which opened in July 2013, boasted a jazz pedigree even before its debut – it’s located at the same address as the now-closed Jazz Bar B – but the new space has been totally revamped. Two areas are connected to the stageless performance area. On one side, a studious audience sits in a small, crowded grandstand. On the other, most of the crowd ignores the tables and remains standing while nursing drinks – often a Santa-Catarina-brewed Saint Bier draft.
Rua João Cachoeira 1366, Itaim (3849 1345/ allofjazz.com.br).
One of the city’s oldest jazz bars, All of Jazz was launched in August 1995, on the birthday of Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson (1925-2007), one of the all-time greats. The tributes to the genre’s stars don’t stop there, as photos of Miles Davis, Billie Holiday and Chet Baker cover the walls of the pub, which is complemented by dark wood tables and bar.
While honouring stars from the past, owner Antônio Augusto Deleuse, 68, is also known for his generosity towards young musicians. All of Jazz features more experienced musicians, such as Argentine saxophonist Hector Costita and Joseval Paes, but Monday through Thursdays are for new groups or budding artists,’ says guitarist Ricardo Baldacci, who played there monthly from 2005 to 2007.
The second floor features a record store, open during regular club hours, with a good collection of jazz classics and bossa nova, in addition to DVDs and books on the topic of music. The only weakness might be the confusing English name of the place, which is an improvised riff (like all the best jazz) on the song ‘All That Jazz’ – with results that sound awkward to native ears.
Rua Cardeal Arcoverde 1265, Pinheiros (3031 1641).
Teta, one Pinheiros's longest-standing jazz bars has a casual and improvisational mood extends beyond the music. The bar's regulars make themselves very much at home right alongside a the musicians performing. Perhaps that's because Teta blurs the lines between the house’s performers, audience and employees (nearly all artists).
The unique bar, led by the brotherly duo of Marcelo and Marcos Zaccarelli, has operated for about 10 years at the former address of rock venue Nosferatu and is one of the city’s favourite jazz joints, so you’ll want to make reservations or arrive early to snag a comfortable space near the band.
Rua dos Chanés 127, Moema (5095 6100/ bourbonstreet.com.br).
Voted amongst the world’s top 150 jazz clubs by the US jazz magazine Downbeat, Bourbon Street is probably the city’s highest calibre jazz bar, hosting top local and international artists playing jazz, blues, soul and Latin swing, as well as organising one of SP’s biggest annual jazz festivals, the Bourbon Street Music Festival.
Avenida Ipiranga 344, Centro (2189 2929/ terracoitalia.com.br).
From its vantage point on the 42nd floor of the Edifício Itália, the Piano Bar – part of the Terraço Itália restaurant (see Bars with a view) – entertains tourists and couples alike with panoramic views, leather armchairs, a self-service Enomatic wine machine and live jazz.
Rua Simão Álvares 951, Pinheiros (3798 7508).
Opened in July 2013, QualCasa blends exhibition space, design store and café in one, and has a changing roster of jazz bands playing (7-11pm) on the ground floor. Behind the new venture are Gil Barbosa, who used to run Teta, and the musician and artist Mario Netto.
Rua Guaicurus 857, Lapa (98272 5978/ escapeserralheria.org).
A low-key warehouse space in the off-the-beaten-path neighbourhood of Lapa, Serralheria is not known for its acoustics, but draws a music-savvy crowd nonetheless who pack in along wooden benches to listen to an eclectic roster of bands. Friday nights usually feature contemporary jazz.
Alameda dos Pamaris 55, Moema (3804 0856/ tontonjazz.com.br).
Set in a barn-like space with a stage at one end facing the bar at the other, Ton Ton Jazz has live music every night of the week, with bands playing everything from reggae and soul to pop and classic rock. A late-thirties-and-up crowd go for the jazz – a permanent fixture for Saturday nights.