Best jazz clubs in Shanghai that you must swing by

Sep 8, 2017

In 1920s and ’30s Shanghai, it was all about showy jazz acts and big band swing. Today, the city is seeing a resurgence in popularity for jazz and blues. We check out the top three, must-visit clubs renowned for their musicians and tunes.

The Jazz Bar, Fairmont Peace Hotel


Just about every guide book will tell you that one of the best places for jazz in Shanghai is at this swanky spot; we couldn’t agree more. There, you’ll find a group of elderly Chinese gentlemen who make up the Old Jazz Band. They’re officially the oldest jazz band in the world and even have a certificate to prove it. The current members of the band have played in the same building since 1980, to audiences that have included everyone from backpackers to celebrities, and even presidents.

You’ll find them performing each night from 7pm to 9:45pm and they’re often joined by a female vocalist who has a silky-smooth voice. Some of their nostalgic covers (which they play from memory) include classics such as Moon River and unsurprisingly, One Day When We Were Young.

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House of Blues & Jazz

house of blues and jazz shanghai

This smart, brasserie-style restaurant and bar that’s set on the Bund is owned by famous Chinese actor, Lin Dongfu. As one of the most established music venues in Shanghai, the House has showcased a number of international acts, and it is also a platform for rising or established local artists.

“Lin Dongfu is the godfather of the city’s current progressive live music scene and he has played an important part in its resurgence,” says Tony Curtis Hall, a drummer from Boston, Massachusetts who was part of the in-house band. He’s spent a number of years playing music in China, and according to him, Shanghai is where the jazz scene is at. “Musicians from Germany, France, Switzerland, Colombia, America and Cuba come here to play – it’s great.”

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The Cotton Club

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Set in the heart of the hip and cool French Concession, this moody hangout may just be the top contemporary live music bar in Shanghai. It’s dimly lit, furnished with red scruffy sofas and is best described as grungy. It may not look like much, but this certainly doesn’t deter a diverse and jam-packed crowd. Everyone from expat teenagers to those who look like they may have been around in the late 1920s, flock here to catch the house band and visiting international musicians who take to its tiny stage.

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Singapore Airlines  flies 5 times daily non-stop from Singapore to Shanghai.