Welcome to the Vortex Jazz Club, one of the UK’s premier jazz venues and winner of the Live Jazz Award category at the 2013 Parliamentary Jazz Awards. Presenting nearly 400 performances a year in a cozy atmosphere, this hard-working jazz club in North London is often referred to as one of the world’s best jazz venues.
When asking locals which the best jazz club in London is, you know you will be hearing the name Vortex Jazz Club a lot. For 25 years, this volunteer-led music venue located in the heart of Dalston (North London) has been serving as platform for music outside the mainstream, including jazz, improvised and experimental genres.
The core of the club’s activity relates to the programme of gigs at the 100-capacity venue within the Dalston Culture House, as well as other larger spaces. Hosting almost 400 yearly performances, Vortex Jazz Club is one of the busiest jazz venues in London’s buzzing nightlife.
The Place for Artists, Fans and the Community
For almost three decades, the Vortex has been praised for its innovative programme and it has been one of the most appreciated jazz clubs in Europe.
For up and coming artists, Vortex Jazz Club has been serving as the prestigious stage for launching their careers. Mercury nominated bands like Polar Bear and Portico Quartet, for instance, have developed their careershave through the Vortex.
When it comes to established musicians, Vortex Jazz Club is sort of a second home for many of them. In fact, the atmosphere is so electrifying, the acoustic so good and the crowd so welcoming, that many prominent performers have returned to the Vortex several times. Just like saxophone player Evan Parker – described by music critic Ron Wynn as “one of Europe’s most innovative and intriguing saxophonists” – who has been playing a monthly residency at the Vortex Jazz Club for over 15 years.
For music enthusiasts, the Vortex has simply been one of the UK’s finest places for live jazz. With admission prices kept at a reasonable price, generally in the range of £8 – £15, Vortex Jazz Club is also well-known for being a wallet-friendly venue that presents top-class music.
And the Vortex is not only much-beloved by hundreds of fans, but it is also a critically-acclaimed jazz club. The prestigious Downbeat magazine, for instance, has consistently selected Vortex Jazz Club as one of the world’s top jazz clubs. Additionally, in 2011, the Vortex was short-listed by Music Week as one of the best live promoters and was also voted as one of London’s top 10 venues by the readers of Time Out in 2012.
The Vortex has also had a positive impact on the North London community. In fact, after moving to Dalston in 2005, the club was an early champion of the area and contributed significantly to its revival and development. Vortex Jazz Club is not only a music venue, it is a cultural hub too.
Vortex Downstairs: A Cool Jazzy Restaurant
Every good live music institution should have an equally good place where food, comfort and atmosphere are integral to its all. And that’s exactly what Vortex Downstairs is to Vortex Jazz Club. The restaurant, bar and café, is the place where jazz enthusiasts and fans of the good cuisine should go for a weekend brunch, lunch during the week or a pre-gig meal.
Coffee lovers will be happy to hear that London’s premier independent coffee roasters Monmouth Coffee proudly deliver fresh beans every week. If you fancy a cup of tea, you should try something from the Vortex Downstairs’ list of unique herbal teas. You can choose between more than 10 different types, including ayurvedic and organic options.
The sophisticated bar, with a wide selection of beer on tap, organic Cider, some of the best red, white and rose wines, as well as a fancy cocktail menu, makes Vortex Downstairs an excellent choice for an after-work drink or an evening out with friends.
And to add coolness to your visit at Vortex, you, as Vortex Jazz Club ticket holder, you will get a 10% on all the food served by the Vortex Downstairs restaurant. Not bad, huh?
An Inspirational Success Story
Vortex Jazz Club is much more than an élite jazz venue that presents top-class live music and serves good food. In fact, it’s also a great example of what a strong passion for jazz can do.
Vortex director Oliver Weindling, head of the label record Babel Label and BBC Jazz Award nominee (who was recently interviewed by DownBeat), and his colleagues and staffers all operate the Vortex unpaid.
In other words, one of the world’s greatest jazz venues is the result of the efforts and dedication of active directors and volunteers, including technical staff, who put their passion for jazz before anything else.
Until today, the club has survived by keeping its costs as low as possible, by sourcing individual grants and receiving donations.
All this makes Vortex Jazz Club an inspiring story other music venues should look at.
If you want to experience hot live jazz without spending a fortune, and, most importantly, if you want to spend a fun evening in an environment full of culture, good food and plenty of smiles, Vortex Jazz Club is the place you should include in your list of London sightseeings.
If you are a jazz cat living in London, make sure to take a look at the venue’s programme and start planning your visit right now!
And now a question for you: what do you like the most about Vortex Jazz Club? Leave your comments in the box below this article
11 Gillett Square, London