Everyone is grooving to the latin-jazz fusion of Clave Sonic when my friend turns and says that to me. And he’s right. That’s what good jazz does – it consumes and overwhelms you. Add a great venue with booze – now you’ve really got something. So if you’ve been sitting around thinking “I could do with some more drinking and some more jazz in my life,” you should probably check out these bars.
At first we weren’t sure if we were in the right place. The neon “Why Not?” sign was staring at us, and through the window I saw two guys at a table playing chess. We figured we’d take the cue from the sign. My buddy and I headed in and settle into a bar stool. We asked to see the beer list and the bartender handed us a laminated sheet that looked like it was typed on a typewriter. My friend looked at me with wide-excited eyes. They have Black Label!” And indeed they do, along with Natty Lite, PBR, Miller High Life and a dozen other beers you’d either drink at a barbecue or in a dorm room. And most of them in the $1.50 to $3.00 range. Now I was positive I was in the right place
Dark, slightly grungy, and relaxed. The perfect place for Clave Sonic’s latin-jazz fusion. With that much cheap beer readily available things got pretty funky toward the end of the evening – including a fun but ill advised dance session and a pizza from Hound Dogs that’s still in my fridge. Dick’s Den is a shot and beer kind of a jazz bar. Streamlined for drinking and great music. So if you were thinking you’d impress a date by taking her to a swanky jazz bar, you might want to try a different place.
Boudins Jazz Lounge and Bistro
Still hungover from Dick’s Den we decided to check out Boudins Jazz Lounge and Bistro for their Saturday afternoon jazz open mic session. When we walked into Boudins I immediately regretted wearing jeans and my Carhart jacket. If Dick’s Den is a shot and beer jazz bar, Boudins is a Bombay martini with a twist of lemon jazz bar.
We made our way past the stage and the tables and chairs to the bar where the bartender immediately greeted me with “What can I get for you baby?” I love it when a bartender calls me baby.
After a little hair of the dog and some shrimp and grits I was feeling right at home, and less self conscious about my attire. Even though it feels a bit more up scale, it’s still a relaxing comfortable experience.
In all honesty I contemplated either leaving this one out or saying it was a terrible experience, simply because I don’t know if I want anyone to know about it. Especially since Bobby Floyd sometimes makes an appearance for the Saturday afternoon jazz sessions. But then I figured if you’re willing to find Boudins then you probably belong there listening to jazz.
Derek DiCenzo is in the middle of a ridiculously good guitar solo, behind the drums Reggie Jackson is smiling and nodding his head to the beat, and Tony Monaco from behind his electric organ shouts at Derek “Go go go!”
Sitting at Rumba, sipping on bourbon and listening to the Tony Monaco Trio I felt like I was at a live recording session. The place is pretty sparse – a stage situated in the corner and a couple of high tops in front it, and of course the bar. What else do you really need? Rumba Cafe is about the music The $3 Bulleit bourbons and the nice selection of beer are just added bonuses.
Tony Monaco, Reggie Jackson, and Derek DiCenzo for five dollars. At the end of the day that’s all that really needs to be said. If you like jazz, stop doing whatever it is you’re currently doing Tuesday nights and go see the Tony Monaco Trio at Rumba.
This wasn’t my first trip to Club Diversity, nor will it be my last. 9 times out of 10 the have some music and nine times out of ten its jazz oriented. Situated in a house that was originally built for a Columbus brew master in the late 1800’s, it makes you feel like you’re at a friends house, and your friend decided “What the hell I’ll get a musician to play live music for everyone.”
The best part about Club Diversity are the very delicious, very large, and very potent martinis. The second best part about Club Diversity is the way you’re able to go listen to music and carry on a conversation without having to shout. It’s an experience that falls somewhere between Rumba and Dick’s Den.
What are your favorite spots for live jazz in Columbus?
This is a guest post by John “Pappy” Venturella. Writer, geologist, and Cash for Gold extraordinaire. He enjoys beer if it’s cheap and martinis if they’re dry. On the weekend he likes to chew bubblegum and kick ass, but frequently runs out of bubblegum.
creative commons photo credit: the justified sinner