Passionate Pursuits: All That Jazz

Written by Jessica Metcalf


Every so often, my feet get the urge to tap along to the syncopated playground of rhythms and melodies of jazz music. The music scene in Columbus is far from new, but as the metropolitan area has grown, the music scene is growing and flourishing along with it - which makes finding a toe-tapping place to spend your evening simple.


Last week, I went to Natalie’s Music Hall & Kitchen in Grandview (with another location in Old Worthington) for some delicious coal-fired pizza and live music. That night, the corner stage presented the dynamic jazz trio of Eddie Bayard, Tony Monaco, and Tony McClung. The trio captivated their hungry audience with a lively performance. Aficionados realize that jazz music is more than something to quietly brush off as background music; it can be a moving and thrilling experience to watch and be a part of the same space as the musicians.

Natalie’s in Grandview also houses a music hall concert venue where guests may dine while enjoying live music on a larger scale. That night, the Midwest Modern Jazz Quartet (MMJQ) made their debut performance together as one of central Ohio’s newest contemporary music quartets, mixing recognizable tunes with modern interpretation. While food may be the main focus in the front dining room and bar, in the music hall, the performers on the stage capture the attention of the audience.


Columbus plays host to many live music venues in restaurant settings, such as The Refectory Restaurant & Bistro, a top-destination of fine dining for over 40 years. The Refectory has developed from its beginnings as a jazz dinner club into a larger Dinner Music Series, hosting an average of six jazz events each month with performances by Chamber Music Series, Tony Monaco, Opera Columbus, and more. Vittoria Ristorante (Powell) pairs modern Italian cuisine with jazzy piano and saxophone tunes during your meal. For over 30 years, Hyde Park Restaurants (Upper Arlington) is known for its cozy, romantic private dining experience and jazz lounge ambiance.


For intimate live performances, Brothers Drake Meadery (Columbus) is home of Jazz Wednesdays, cultivating creativity of local and touring talented original jazz and funk artists. Some prefer jazz in a grunge, down-to-earth setting that is reminiscent of small jazz clubs of New York or Chicago, like the iconic Dick’s Den (Columbus). A similar atmosphere can be found just a few blocks away at the Rumba Cafe, offering jazz along with alt country, funk, rock, and soul.


If you’re looking for a late-morning sonorous meal, Barcelona (German Village) and Third & Hollywood (Grandview) have a rotating selection of live jazz performers for a swinging Sunday brunch. After your Sunday brunch, stop by the Clintonville Woman's Club (Clintonville) on Monday night for the weekly performance of Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra in the iconic clubhouse.


Jazz is unlike other genres of music read off of sheets of paper; it is something that must be felt. It is one of my favorite things to experience and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my evening than filling my belly with good food and my soul with even better music.


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