While KL has a multitude of clubs catering to those of the electronic dance music persuasion, the city’s nightlife scene is perhaps more sparsely populated by venues that specialise in an altogether more refined, but often just as energetic, experience.
Whether your bag is traditional, contemporary or experimental jazz, the century-old music genre is well represented in a few select outlets that demand a visit if you’re after a quality live performance.
We’ve put together a list of places that should be on everyone’s radar, but especially if you’re a jazz aficionado as you won’t find better in the Klang Valley!
No Black Tie
You can’t really talk about jazz in Malaysia without talking about the institution that is No Black Tie (NBT). Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle, a stone’s throw from the bustling Changkat Bukit Bintang, NBT is the brain child of classical pianist Evelyn Hii who opened her club 21 years ago.
Originally planned as an alternative venue for live classical music, Hii branched out and started inviting jazz artistes to play at the club. The buzz grew with the club attracting an ever increasing number of talent, and soon it became the niche venue to check out in the region.
Its stage has hosted some of the finest the scene has to offer, including the likes of American jazz legend Kirk Lightsey, acclaimed guitarist Martin Taylor and Italian jazzman Danilo Rea. There’s a good chance that if it’s a well-known artiste touring the region, you’ll see them swing by NBT.
An intimate set up with warm and dynamic acoustics, NBT is a must-visit for any self-respecting jazz fan. Having said that, you’ll also see folk, blues, rock and most recently, even hip hop influenced shows here.
No Black Tie
WHERE 17 Jalan Mesui Off Jalan Nagasari, Kuala Lumpur
WHEN 5pm-1am (Mon-Sat)
TEL 03 2142 3737
Like NBT, Alexis Bistro has clocked in over two decades on the scene, and in that time it has easily become one of the most recognised names on the circuit. Out of its family of five outlets, the Ampang spot is the place you want to be for jazz of the finest order. With an interior that’s cool, stylish, roomy and comfortable, Alexis Ampang hits all the right notes.
Photo Credit Alexis Bistro
Every Friday and Saturday you’ll find a roster of top international and local acts on stage, belting out jazz standards across the spectrum. Local legends like Michael Veerapen, Evelyn Feroza and WVC Trio are regulars here and if you head to the website, you can scroll through the long list of international headliners that have passed through its doors.
Equally as impressive is the menu, both food and wine-wise. From an excellent Sarawak laksa to what many claim is the city’s best tiramisu, Alexis delivers on all fronts.
WHERE Great Eastern Mall, 303 Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
WHEN 11am-12am (Mon-Thur), 11am-2am (Fri-Sat), 10am-12am (Sun)
TEL 03 4260 2288
“Life is better upstairs” read the words above the door that takes you up to this sleek and elegant multi-level outlet. Located on Bangsar’s Jalan Bangkung, Bobo is a premium restaurant on its first floor and the swanky speakeasy-styled Bobo Piano Lounge on the upper floor. It’s an intimate affair where you can catch seasoned musicians performing live six nights a week.
With a line up curated by Malaysian performer extraordinaire Sean Ghazi, you’ll find luminaries like Talitha Tan, Melissa Indot, The Frankie Sixes and veteran David Gomes on the grand piano, plus plenty more on the bill here. A state-of-the-art sound system ensures you’re getting the highest auditory experience you’ll find anywhere in the city, and a combination of artwork, décor and intimate layout makes it feel like you’re at home.
We recommend starting with some exceptional modern European fare in the restaurant and then progressing to the lounge for after-dinner drinks and jazz. What more could you ask for in a night out?
WHERE 65-1, Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur
WHEN 5pm-12am (Tues-Sun)
TEL 03 2092 5002