Jazz in Abu Dhabi

Best places to visit to enjoy some truly decent jazz Comments

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The music scene in Abu Dhabi is quite varied – with categories such as oriental, electronic, rock, hip hop and many more. While the nation’s capital does cater to many different musical tastes, up until recently
it seemed one group was being neglected. Many jazz aficionados recall hotspots that were open over a decade ago, back when the city had a healthy selection of live jazz performances. Carla Mirza, a Lebanese expat living in Abu Dhabi, reminisces about the mid ’90s: ‘We were regulars at Colosseum in the Tourist Club Area. Back then, they had a fantastic live band.’

But is there anywhere that has decent jazz in the nation’s capital now? TOAD hit the bars to find out.

Jazz Bar & Dining, Hilton Abu Dhabi
The first spot we visit is, by many accounts, the classic choice. Open since 1997, Jazz Bar & Dining has always been known to have a live band that belt out jazzy tunes six nights a week. The venue is nearly packed when we visit on a Tuesday night, yet a waiter immediately seats us at a table. The band on stage are Maximum, a seven-member group composed of varying nationalities. The band performs on a large elevated center stage and the décor follows a white theme. All around you can notice nice little jazz details, such as the note shaped napkin holders on the tables and the painted piano keys on the floor.

Thirty minutes into our visit, we are disappointed that we still haven’t heard any actual jazz. The song list so far has consisted of more international flavours. Nevertheless, we do note that the crowd are smiling and thoroughly enjoying the performance. There’s even a female vocal version of Maroon 5’s ‘Moves Like Jagger’ that has a few people get up to dance between the closely spaced tables. Eventually a few jazz classics do pop up between the mainstream songs and they are performed well.
Jazz Bar & Dining is open Sun-Wed 7pm-12.30am; Thu-Fri 7pm-1.30am. Table reservations available. Hilton Abu Dhabi (02 681 1900).

By Sara Taher
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

User reviews:

Posted by: Max Sommers on 20 Mar ' 13 at 14:59

The review of the Friday night gig at Mood Indigo is misleading in its description of the music as "smooth jazz", a term which conjurs up images of dreadful things like Kenny G and makes genuine jazz lovers shudder with horror. This is probably about as good as jazz gets in this city. The line up of the trio varies, and the character of the music is very much affected by who is playing the piano, but what you will fine here is real jazz, with standards by composers as diverse as Cole Porter, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Joe Zawinul and Chick Corea. NOT the elevator music the review might lead you to expect. It attracts many regulars, most of whom, self included, would be quite happy to pay admission for the quality of music on offer. The band is a piano trio (real grand piano, as opposed to an electric keyboard), and on a good night they can be quite outstanding. The atmosphere is great when a large enough crowd shows up, and as an extra bonus, it is one of the more reasonably priced bars in the city. If you are a genuine jazz enthusiast, this is where you should be on a Friday.

Posted by: Max Sommers on 20 Mar ' 13 at 14:58

The review of the Friday night gig at Mood Indigo is misleading in its description of the music as "smooth jazz", a term which conjurs up images of dreadful things like Kenny G and makes genuine jazz lovers shudder with horror. This is probably about as good as jazz gets in this city. The line up of the trio varies, and the character of the music is very much affected by who is playing the piano, but what you will fine here is real jazz, with standards by composers as diverse as Cole Porter, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Joe Zawinul and Chick Corea. NOT the elevator music the review might lead you to expect. It attracts many regulars, most of whom, self included, would be quite happy to pay admission for the quality of music on offer. The band is a piano trio (real grand piano, as opposed to an electric keyboard), and on a good night they can be quite outstanding. The atmosphere is great when a large enough crowd shows up, and as an extra bonus, it is one of the more reasonably priced bars in the city. If you are a genuine jazz enthusiast, this is where you should be on a Friday.

Posted by: Porchia Keeley on 16 Feb ' 13 at 12:48

This young man is so talented. The atmosphere is great, but the crowd is unappreciative. Jazz loves come by and show this Cuban sensation some love!

Posted by: Olivia Ferreira on 08 Oct ' 12 at 08:16

One of the best places in Abu Dhabi to listen good jazz music and a very good environment!

Posted by: Karen Topaljikian on 08 Oct ' 12 at 06:02

I have been To Jazz Bar in AD.. one of the best! Loved the ambiance, mood, Music, and people. will definitely visit again on my next trip this month :)

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Close X The Holy Month of Ramadan started on Sunday, June 29 and will last for one month. During this time live music and DJ sets will stop and opening hours may change at all venues. Please call ahead to confirm details with the outlet.