Duke Ellington once said that jazz is a good barometer of freedom. Over the years, the genre has spread its wings over Florence, breathing life into a new generation of talented musicians, venues and aficionados. January is packed with pizzazz (don’t miss pianist Stefano Bollani’s live rendition of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue at the Mandela Forum on the 29th) and every day offers a chance to jazz up your week.
Here’s where you can get your daily fix of cool!
La Ménagère Via de’ Ginori, 4/10r
Every Monday starting 9pm this classy bistro’s underground live club hosts an open jazz session, a local landmark among internationals together with the other jazz evenings held on Saturday and Sunday.
Free entry, drink purchase required
Via Fiesolana, 25r
Always attentive to new trends, Rex’s rich events program has recently included groovy gigs powered by Accademia Europea Firenze and Italian magazine Jazzit. Enveloped in the smoky retro feel of America’s old-day clubs, gigs start at 9.30pm. Free entry
Mercato Centrale Piazza del Mercato Centrale
Liven up your midweek drudgery: every Wednesday around 8pm Florence’s Central Market features swing, dixieland and manouche live acts. Let your taste buds join the fun and dance their way to the food stands. Free entry
Twisted Jazz Shop Borgo San Frediano, 21r
Rest your eardrums, take a stroll in the Oltrarno and drop by Twisted Jazz Shop, a record store extraordinaire. Owner Stefano is a true connoisseur and you can often spot his cute dog napping in the shop window. Open Monday-Saturday, 9am-1pm / 3.30-7.30pm
La Sala del Rosso
Via di Badia a Ripoli, 5
This is a total treat. Inside the age-old Bisarno castle, on the outskirts of the city centre, La Sala del Rosso’s state-of-the-art soundsystem makes it the place for passionate listeners. Concerts start around 9.30pm. Membership required. Ticket 12 euro, drink included
Golden View Open Bar Via dei Bardi, 58r
With glass walls overlooking the Ponte Vecchio, this is the perfect setting for a romantic night out. Classic jazz from 8.30 to 11.30pm, also on Monday and Saturday.
Free entry, drink purchase required.
Pinocchio Jazz @ Circolo Vie Nuove – viale D. Giannotti, 13
Since 1995 Pinocchio Jazz has been putting Florence on the jazz map hosting both national and international names. Pinocchio might be the venue’s mascot but when it comes to quality there’s no lies involved. The calendar also features free original-language jazz films and documentaries at 9.30 pm on Thursdays. Concerts start at 9.45 pm. ARCI/UISP membership required. Concert tickets 10–13 euro, discounts for students.
Jazz Club Via Nuova de’ Caccini, 3
Although this popular club is open almost all week, the legendary Sunday jam session is a local favorite. The house band hits the stage around 10.30pm. Open since 1979, this jazz stronghold is proof of Florence’s longstanding devotion to this one-of-a-kind genre. Membership 5 euro, drink included.
If you’re an avid jazz scourer, check out the following venues: Caffè Letterario Le Murate, Caffetteria delle Oblate, L’Appartamento, NOF club, Sala Vanni, Tasso Hostel, Ditta Artigianale, Libreria Cafe La Cité.
JAZZ UP YOUR HAIRSTYLE!
When it comes to rhythm, intuition and feeling, Rasoi Hair Jazz makes the cut with its unique hairdressing philosophy and warm retro ambience. ‘Florence, town of the arts, seemed to me ideal when I decided to open my own shop in 2006,’ writes Fabio Velotti, founder of this recently renovated salon in Via Ghibellina, 55r. Hands and scissors travel on the notes of tasty grooves and sensual bossa nova. Fabio has also worked as coiffeur and make-up artist for haute couture fashion shows, but don’t worry: this cool cat keeps his prices low. Enjoy his well-assorted album collection and musical instruments while he styles you to satisfaction.
Florence’s recent jazz surge has sparked countless creative initiatives but Jazz and Blue, a self-published book by young design collective Muttnik, is original beyond question. This collection of simple monochrome drawings by illustrator Nicola Giorgio translates orchestral scores and musical improvisations into a maze of traits. Result of a Florentine summer spent sipping drinks at jazzy gastropub Lo Sverso, where swinging musicians flung subtle melodies in the windless street, Nicola’s swift hand and dynamic brush pen tell a great truth: jazz isn’t about perfection; it’s about passion and movement.