Jazz in Toronto is a powerful lure. When you’re looking for jazz concerts in Toronto, whether it be family-fun, upscale and elegant, or laid-back and hip, these top picks will provide a night of music and style.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Ripley’s Aquarium is the epitome of unusual for a family or date night, where the denizens of this particular deep take jazz in Toronto to previously unexplored depths. Fierce, ugly, unimaginably exotic, and the very funniest of fish faces will slip, slide, and glide by as you sway eyeball to eyeball as part of Toronto’s most unique jazz experience. Located right in downtown Toronto, the aquarium connects you with a fish-in-water crowd on the second Friday of every month, consistently offering a wide variety of jazz and presenting some of the city’s best jazz concerts.
The wonder moves across your face as a stingray wafts by on rippling wings or a leafy sea dragon hovers in all of its ethereal glory. You appreciate the extraordinary colours of Rainbow Reef and the crystalline blue hues of the underwater tunnel while savouring a sip of wine. Let the moving walkway carry you through or step off to stay awhile as the sea creatures wander up, down and around you again. Certain senses satiated, this is the moment to do more than feel that jazz beat seeping into your shins. At the various touch pools, you can lean in and stroke creatures whose skin textures range from silky to the finest of sandpapery or tap out an ever-so-gentle beat on the shelled back of a horseshoe crab.
Joy often flits through concerts at jazz lounges and bistros, but toddlers grooving to the tunes on their stubby sea legs with eyes drilling into overhead sharks is a whole other kind of happy. Likewise, there is a special kind of musical magic in seniors caught hand-in-hand in the other-worldliness of the psychedelic jellies as they float, pulse, and drift through water columns.
If you’re looking for more of a classic, sit-down soiree, the intimate, upscale, and elegant Jazz Bistro is carrying the Victoria Street space’s tradition of live jazz forward for a new generation that understands fine dining. There is a sense of history here because, if you care about jazz and you know this city, you may be aware of the Senator Restaurant and the Top o’ the Senator jazz club that earned a reputation for stellar jazz until 2005. The Savoy Bistro replaced the Senator, but after just one year, it languished until Colin and Joan Hunter created the Jazz Bistro in 2011. The couple, lovers of fine food and great music, redesigned the space, installed a state-of-the-art sound system and a “one-of-a-kind” Steinway piano called the Red Pops. Well-dressed for a romantic evening or a night out for jazz in Toronto with good friends, you notice that Jazz Bistro patrons are appreciative and respectful, even restrained, but are always ready to roar their approval when the best local and touring musicians take the stage.
While you’re sure to see heads nodding and toes tapping at Jazz Bistro, the Reservoir Lounge is the nightspot you want if you’re into shaking your booty and swinging those hips. Right across from the landmark Flatiron Building and tucked below street level, the Reservoir Lounge is dedicated to swing, jump blues, boogie-woogie, and everything in between. The city’s “hippest entertainment” gives jazz, soul, and rhythm-and-blues aficionados multiple choices with different artists typically playing the same nights every week.
Dress up or down, but get ready to check out the sounds and the many faces of Toronto’s truest, bluest lovers of tunes, because uptown, downtown, and all across town, jazz music lives in Toronto at a variety of clubs, restaurants, bars, hotels, and even the aquarium.