Following the closing of one of Pittsburgh’s jazz clubs, Con Alma Ellsworth, and the will-they-won’t-they status of James Street, people made the safe assumption that jazz is dying in Pittsburgh. However, similar to the olden days, you just need to talk to people to realize there is jazz and music in the city. Here are the top 8 places we listen to jazz:

The Space Upstairs – Homewood

The Space Upstairs is one of the coolest venues in the city. There isn’t a bad seat in the “house.” Some of Pittsburgh’s greats, such as the Throckmorton’s quartet, are paired with the Pillow Project dancers improvising to rhymes and melody. Mai Khoi and the dissidents (somewhat jazz) frequently perform here too. This is the quintessential listening room. Downsides: doesn’t happen very often, only on the 2nd Saturday of the month. No food or drinks (unless you count water), cover charge.

De Fer Coffee & Tea – Strip District

Defer Coffee & Tea hosts jam sessions with Steve Ippolito on the first Thursdays of the month 6-9 pm are a good time. And a notable shoutout to the all-female jazz trio led by Milah Shadell. Downsides: There isn’t a lot of seating and the dates are infrequent.

Cousins Lounge – Millvale

Adam Bleil’s monthly jam sessions have become a staple at the Millvale dive bar. Grab a beer and listen to some of Pittsburgh’s best in these monthly jam sessions on the second Friday 8-11 pm. Friendly atmosphere, cheap drinks, good time, and finally some music going on after 10 pm. Downsides: it gets loud and crowded, it only happens once a month, kind of hard to get to if you don’t have a car.

Peppers N’at – Braddock

Located in the Braddock neighborhood, Pepper’s N’at is a local restaurant bar that offers live music by Pittsburgh great, Roger Barber, every Thursday 6:30-9:30 pm. Many of Pittsburgh’s legends often stop by to play with Roger Barber’s band. It’s a friendly atmosphere and a good hang with locals. Downsides: Food’s okay, kind of hard to get to if you don’t have a car.

Golden Age – Homestead

From the jam sessions hosted weekly by Tony Campell on Saturdays from 3-6 pm to the local artists playing there Friday-Sunday, Golden Age Brewery offers quality no-cover-fee live music. The drinks are good and fairly priced. The atmosphere is friendly and down-to-earth. Downsides: indoor acoustics aren’t great. The acts are mostly the same.

Pittsburgh Winery – Strip District

Newly reopened, The Original Pittsburgh Winery has some amazing new cool acts. With its monthly jam session on the second Thursdays of the month also hosted by Steve Ippolito. Some of the best acts I’ve seen in a while come through. Downsides: somewhat awkward seating and okay food.

Con Alma – Downtown

John Shannon’s 2021 expansion, now the only Con Alma downtown, is a venue that is hard to beat. Music 7 nights a week with a weekly jam session. Touring musicians and acts of all calibers come through. This is the Pittsburgh Jazz club. Downsides: expensive, a very “uptight” attitude sometimes, cover fee.

Kingfly – Strip District

Kingfly Spirits holds it down the Strip. With live music happening every week, there is always something interesting going on. Whether it’s Pittsburgh’s drum legend Roger Humphries, one of my favorite jam sessions with George Heid III and the Precipice Band, Latin jazz artist Hugo Cruz and the Caminos, or the Bachelor Boy’s wedding showcase. Here you can find a variety of locals and groups hanging out, whether it’s swing dancing or local artists sketching. This has truly transformed into a local hangout. Downsides: cover charge and no real food (unless you count Cinderland’s next door).

Honorable Mentions:

  • Fatcat Eats is now offering live music in the Northside, not established yet in the scene.
  • 3rd Street Gallery in Carnegie features Don Aliquo Sr. and friends, showcasing Pittsburgh’s best once a month on Sundays.
  • Eddie V’s and Sullivan’s for those who want to get corporate and fancy.
  • Open Improv Lab at Bantha Tea Bar in Bloomfield offers great music, not necessarily jazz, but always good.

Needless to say, jazz isn’t dead in Pittsburgh, and it’s not going anywhere

Vicky Davide is Pittsburgh's Premiere Jazz Flutist. She has been a strong advocate in the Jewish community near and afar.