If jazz is your scene, Havana has some great locations to check out. Most jams happen during the usual nightlife and supper club hours, but you’ll find a few venues offer afternoons and matinees, too.
A jazz trio performs upstairs nightly in Café del Oriente (Oficios #112, esq. Amargura, tel. 07/860-6686). However, the key venue is the Bar Chico O’Farrill (Cuba #102, esq. Chacón, tel. 07/860-5080), in the Hotel Palacio O’Farrill. It hosts Cuba’s top performers Friday-Sunday evenings.
Vedado and Plaza de la Revolución
The Jazz Café (1ra at the base of Paseo, tel. 07/838-3302, daily 10pm-2am, CUC10 consumo mínimo), on the third floor of the Galería del Paseo, is a classy supper-club with some of the best live jazz in town, including resident maestro Chucho Valdés. Get there early to snag a seat.
La Zorra y el Cuervo (Calle 23, e/ N y O, tel. 07/833-2402, 10pm-2am, CUC10 including two drinks) is in a dreary basement setting (thankfully nonsmoking). Nonetheless, Cuban greats such as Roberto Fonseca, Alexis Bosch, and saxophonist Michel Herrera perform here. It has “blues” on Thursdays, plus a matinee on Saturday at 2pm.
UNEAC’s El Hurón Azul (Calle 17 #351, e/ G y H, Vedado, tel. 07/832-4551) has tardes del jazz (jazz afternoons) every second Thursday of the month at 5pm. The Peña de Rembert Duharte is hosted in the garden adjoining the Teatro Mella (Línea e/ A y B, tel. 07/833-8696) the last Friday of each month at 5pm.
Playa (Miramar and Beyond)
A jazz ensemble performs at the Tocororo (Calle 18 y 3ra Av., tel. 07/202-2209) restaurant.
The über-chic private club Privé (Calle 88A #306, e/ 3ra y 3raA, Miramar, tel. 07/209-2719, Tues.-Sun. 5pm-6am) hosts jazz and nueva trova greats such as Frank Delgado. It has an open bar (CUC10). And young jazz artists perform at Cineteatro Miramar (Calle 94 y 5ta), a recently remodeled 1950s cinema where kick-ass acts like Pacheco and Aldito López Gavilán play.
The state entity Artex recently opened Café Miramar (Calle 5ta, esq. 94, tel. 07/204-6244, Tues.-Sun. noon-2am, CUC2-4) as a snazzy jazz venue where you can catch Pacheco, Aldito López Gavilán, and other hot artists. Music kicks in at 10:30pm, plus Miramar has Sunday afternoon jams.