Hip haunts to visit during the Toronto Jazz Festival

Cool cats rejoice! More than 1,500 musicians will bring some serious sizzle to the city when the TD Toronto Jazz Festival returns on June 18-29. There’s plenty of action happening at the mainstage marquee in Nathan Phillip’s Square and soulful singers and instrumentalists will be performing at dozens of jazz clubs and bars across the downtown. Here are a few hip haunts where you can catch your favourite acts.

The Rex Jazz & Blues Bar

1
194 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1Z1

This Queen West legend has been attracting musicians from around the world since the late ’80s. The bar hosts over 30 performances throughout the festival so you’ll have to plan ahead to if you want to catch your favourite artists. On June 20, check out Brooklyn-based ensemble Huntertones, whose performances blend jazz, funk, soul, hip hop, rock and gospel. And if you’re looking for that big band sound, visit on June 26 to hear eclectic bassist icon Chris Tarry.

Grossman's Tavern

2
377 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2G3

As one of the longest running live music venues in the city, this Spadina Avenue haunt has a dive-bar vibe and a seriously cool legacy. Toronto’s self-described “Home of the Blues” will be hosting more than 10 performances during the festival. Your best bet? Visit on June 27 when Toronto-based Happy Pals take the stage to play their foot-stomping, hand-clapping old-time New Orleans party music. The joyous seven-piece jazz band has been bringing their Southern-style big-band sound to Grossman’s every Saturday for over 30 years so they know how to put on a memorable show.

The Tilted Dog Pub & Kitchen

3
424 Parliament St, Toronto, ON M5A 3A2

Stop by this Cabbagetown restaurant in the afternoon on June 21, to enjoy a free performance by Zimzum. The melodic jazz funk quartet plays a free show at 4:30 pm, making it the perfect musical appetizer to enjoy before dining on The Local Gest’s farm-to-table dinner fare. The seasonal menu features a tasty variety of sandwiches, burritos, salads and mains prepared with sustainably sourced local ingredients

Morgans On The Danforth

4
1282 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J 1M6

Dine on elevated comfort foods during a day of live jazz at this east end gastropub on Sunday, June 23. European songstress Carin Redman will charm audiences with her silky vocals when special guests Mark Kieswetter and Ross MacIntyre join her on stage for an intimate lunchtime performance. Later on that evening, jazz performer and flutist Bill McBirnie will perform alongside pianist Stephen Gardener. The neighbourhood eatery is also known for its fine craft beer selection so we recommend pairing a pint with an order of the Morgan’s buttermilk fried chicken.

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