July 1st – It’s Our Birthday!

July 1st is our 15th birthday!

To celebrate, the wonderful Aki Remally will be taking over our Facebook page to share some tasty beats and throwback treats.

15 Years

The Jazz Bar was founded by musicians, for musicians and over the years it has become the central hub of jazz in Scotland. Since 2005, The Jazz Bar has played host to thousands of incredible performances, 364 days per year, with 3+ shows per day (and 9 each day of the Fringe Festival). We expect that this gives us one of (if not) the largest live music programmes of any venue in the UK.

Jazz has a certain lingering stereotyped persona of elitism and exclusivity that we are seeing wash away more and more with each year as more young people discover the genre and put their own spin on it. The vibrant jazz scene that has developed over the years is truly impressive; with new, fascinating sounds from some very young players, hinting at a highly promising future for jazz in Scotland. This new generation and their increasingly diverse, genre-blending and introspective sounds embrace the fluid nature of jazz, breathing new life into the genre and infusing it with contemporary zeitgeist.

This new generation of jazzers is exactly what we want to see at The Jazz Bar. Our central mission is to make jazz accessible to new audiences, opening up the genre to people who have never had opportunity to experience a live jazz gig before and showing them that this music, created almost a century ago, sounds as hot as it ever did. Bill Kyle, drummer and the founder of The Jazz Bar, himself played in pop and rock groups until discovering his brother’s jazz records, and a new lifelong passion was ignited. The jazz scene is here, it just needs to be reached.

This innovative, kaleidoscopic and dynamic genre is endlessly inspiring, surprising and, most of all, fun! The lockdown has been extremely difficult, but having this passionate scene to return to spurs us on. This year, we had been planning to create new musical events and opportunities for kids of all ages and we’re looking forward to getting this back on track for next year and making our programme even bigger and better.

Our friend and reviewer, Rob Adams has worked with London Jazz News’ Patrick Hadfield to write up a special tribute for our 15-year anniversary, with a look back at 15 of their highlight gigs. Check out the article, here: Edinburgh’s Jazz Bar is 15 Years Old 

What are you up to?

As something of a silver lining, the lockdown actually presents a rare opportunity for the bar itself, to receive a bit of a face-lift. As mentioned, our programme is pretty massive in normal days, meaning that any construction, whether it be rebuilding the stage, stopping the bar from falling into the sub-floor, or giving the walls a fresh coat of paint, must be undertaken after the 3am closing time, with paint being dry by opening time the next day… So, during the lockdown we’ve been conducting some thrifty DIY, painting the tabletops, re-furbishing the chairs, sewing up new stage backdrop curtains, and smoothing over the cracks and chips to have it all looking fresh and shiny by opening time.

Staying Underground

Many people have been asking if we will be reopening in July when pubs are allowed to reopen but this still won’t be viable for us. We don’t yet know when we will be able to open, though we are quite sure that we can’t do so until live performances are allowed again, and probably not until physical distancing is reduced. There are a lot of reasons for this, and a huge number of variables at play in this discussion of reopening, but here is the first hurdle:

The Jazz Bar’s capacity on any normal day is 120.
With 2-metre social distancing, our capacity is 14.

There is a lot more to this and we have plans and ideas for practically every eventuality, but that number should really tell you everything right now.

Remaining closed is extremely challenging but reopening looks to be even more difficult with huge costs involved, unworkable safety guidelines and a real lack of support for the arts from government. It’s a worrying situation, but at the moment we are really safer staying closed and we hope that by doing so we can reopen later in the year to a safer situation for everyone involved, and have the opportunity to put some musicians back on stage.


In the meantime, to celebrate our 15-year anniversary, and to help us survive in this lockdown, the absolutely incredible musicians of the Scottish jazz scene generously donated 23 of their stunning tracks for our anniversary digital album, ‘To The Jazz Bar With Love’.

Check it out, here!

If you’d like to support us directly, we would be very grateful for any donations to keep us going.