Jazz festivals punctuate the year in Israel: the Tel Aviv Jazz Festival in May, New Orleans Jazz Festival in June, Summertime Jazz Festival in August, Jerusalem Jazz Festival in September, Jaffa Jazz Festival in October and Red Sea Jazz Festival in November.
Additionally, the Hot Jazz series provides shows in venues around the country.
The best places to hear jazz are mainly in Tel Aviv. The only one you can rely on for three shows six days a week (and two on Fridays) is Beit HaAmudim. Shablul Jazz Club has been around longer but has just three days a week dedicated to live music.
Below are jazz venues and festivals grouped by city. At the end is Hot Jazz information.
1. Beit HaAmudim, at 14 Rambam Street in the Nahalat Binyamin neighborhood, is Israel’s jazz temple.
The heart of the action is inside, with the audience at small round tables crowded around the jazz players.
Every night from Saturday to Thursday, three sets are played, divided into two ensembles. The earlier time slots, 7:30pm and 9pm, are taken by one band, and the late show at 10:30pm by another.
On Fridays, the café is open from 11am-5pm and sets are played at 1:30 and 3pm.
The venue has a spacious outdoor terrace with shade in summer and heating in winter. The food is vegan and vegetarian, including delicious homemade Balkan pastries and hot apple cider.
Reserve if you want to be sure of a table or bar stool (or even just to get in at busy times, including Friday mornings).
In December, Beit HaAmudim celebrated its 11th anniversary as a jazz club, so keep an eye on the website for special events.
2. Hagada Hasmalit (LeftBankTLV), at 70 Ehad Ha’am Street, once the main venue for jazz and experimental music in the 2000s that eventually closed, has reopened. It hosts jazz evenings as well as film showings, lectures and performances.
Follow the club’s Facebook page to keep up with events.
3. Levontin7, named for its street address, was opened by a group of jazz artists, although it is no longer run by them. Today the club hosts many types of music including jazz, so check the website here to find when it is on.
4. Shablul, at 23 Carlebach Street, established in 2005, is rated “one of the world’s top jazz venues” by Downbeat magazine. It has an intimate, international, jazzy atmosphere.
The club showcases the finest bands and musicians from Israel and abroad, in a range of genres from jazz to blues, rock, indie and more. There are top artists’ shows three times a week — mostly jazz, but not on regular days every week, so check Shablul’s calendar.
Here you’ll find great performances, very good food, and friendly service in a great atmosphere. The club is open for meals and drinks at 8pm. Shows are at 9pm. Reservations are required.
5. Zappa, at 144 Menachem Begin Boulevard, is a legendary music venue. Keep an eye on its calendar for jazz concerts.
6. The New Orleans Jazz Festival takes place at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in June. It celebrated its fourth anniversary this year.
Each year, the festival hosts a huge variety of more than a hundred performers who create and play in different styles – from ragtime through blues, dixie and more.
Dozens of international jazz artists participate in the festival – amazing performers who play in jazz festivals all over the world and specialize in New Orleans music. Lots of local performers join the party, as well.
7. The Summertime Tel Aviv Jazz Festival was inaugurated by Barak Weiss Productions/Israel Jazz Society and The Gray Music Club Group last August at 30 Ibn Gvirol Street.
Tel Aviv’s end-of-summer jazzfest offers three nights of excellent International and local jazz concerts, with a jazz club vibe. This year’s event runs August 29-31.
8. The Jaffa Jazz Festival takes place at the ZOA House, 1 Daniel Frisch Street, in October. It’s run entirely by musicians and everything played at the festival is produced especially for the festival.
A total of 70 musicians from 10 countries create 15 concerts for a three-day marathon. They arrive four days in advance of the festival, and Kimelman combines them with Israeli musicians and among themselves. The musicians have absolute freedom to take it wherever they want.
This festival showcases top talents and quality musicians and is one of the most important jazz events in Israel. During the three days of the festival, leading Israeli and international artists perform in a great variety of sets.
As the Israeli Jazz scene presented a few interesting contemporary performers like Avishai Cohen and Daniel Zamir in recent years, the jazz atmosphere at the festival these days leans toward contemporary jazz.
10. The Polish Jazz Fest, now in its fourth year, features Polish jazz bands, Polish-Israel collaborations, and commissioned work by Israeli bands of Polish composers. This year’s edition is scheduled for October 17-19 at Gray Tel Aviv Music Club.
1. Abraham Hostel at 67 Hanevi’im Street (Davidka Square) has a free open-mic jazz night accompanied by the house band every Sunday night.
All jazz jammers are welcome to play their standards and listen to the most talented players the city has to offer. Doors open at 8pm; shows start at 8:30. Information: infojlm@abrahamtravel, 074-701-0772.
2. Barood bar and restaurant, at 31 Jaffa Street (Feingold Courtyard) offers live jazz on Saturday afternoons and evenings, in the courtyard in summer and inside the restaurant in winter. Sometimes they have jazz on other days too, so check the venue’s calendar.
Daniela Lerer, an iconic figure in the capital, opened Barood in 1995. Jazz records have always dominated the background music at Barood, with live jazz playing on Saturdays only.
Situated in a picturesque courtyard off Jaffa Road, Barood serves pastelicos and albóndigas and other Sephardic food, as well as vegetarian, vegan and seafood items.
Open Mondays-Fridays 5pm-1am; Saturdays 1pm-1am. Information: (02) 625-9081.
3. Yellow Submarine at 13 HaRehavim Street in the Talpiot industrial zone has a longstanding reputation as a music venue. Tuesday nights are reserved for jazz. Check the calendar here or call 02) 679-4040.
The Red Sea Jazz Festival takes place at the Eilat Port every November.
This festival, first held in 1987, currently is directed by bassist Avishai Cohen.
A four-day-long event, the festival features nine to 10 concerts per evening outdoors at the port, plus six workshops at a nearby hotel with guest artists and nightly jam sessions.
The festival offers a combination of international jazz artists and local talent. It also provides a venue for collaborative efforts.
Some 70,000 people attend annually, with an average of 2,500 people per concert.
The Hot Jazz series, initiated over 24 years ago, is the most significant international jazz series in the Israeli scene. Each series lasts a week and showcases the best jazz artists from around the world, with top level productions in soul, blues, swing and more.
While the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is the official home of Hot Jazz, its performances take place in various locations across the country: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Haifa, Kfar Saba, Beersheva and other cities.