Venue of the Week: PizzaExpress Jazz Club, Soho

Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho
Chris Ogden

Chris Ogden

Is there anyone that can truly say they don’t enjoy pizza? And equally, is there anyone who can say they don’t enjoy music? These are two objects where there is truly a version for everyone, which is why somewhere like the PizzaExpress Jazz Club in London is a truly holy union. 

This week, we are delving into the world of this legendary club, taking a look at what makes it tick and what’s coming up soon as our Venue of the Week!

This award-winning jazz club in the famous entertainment district of Soho has been open since 1976 and has welcomed thousands of legendary musicians into its intimate basement over the years.

PizzaExpress Jazz Club was awarded Venue of the Year two years running in the London Lifestyle Awards in 2015 and 2016 and has been named one of the world’s best jazz clubs by Downbeat magazine. Over the years it has hosted famous soul stylists such as Norah Jones, Amy Winehouse and Gregory Porter along with instrumentalists like Benny Carter and Brad Mehldau.

Music purists may balk at the credentials of a venue associated with a pizza chain restaurant but it’s clear from its illustrious history that PizzaExpress Jazz Club has plenty to offer music lovers. But what makes this jazz club so special? Let’s take a look…

What is PizzaExpress Jazz Club like?

PizzaExpress Jazz Club in Soho

For anyone passing by, the ground floor of PizzaExpress Jazz Club is exactly as you would expect It to be – a spacious and cleanly designed PizzaExpress restaurant serving up the chain’s usual repertoire of pizzas. While the food upstairs is great, it’s the downstairs basement that makes this place really special.

The jazz club’s basement is as cosy as all jazz clubs should be, boasting a bar well-stocked with beers and wines and plenty of candle-lit seating for you to sit down and watch the show. If you look up, you’ll see photos of previous performers at the venue adorning the walls, giving you a sense of the venue’s rich jazz heritage.

PizzaExpress Jazz Club puts on live music seven days of the week, meaning it will cater for anyone looking for a jazz fix whether you’re looking for sophisticated entertainment midweek or a raucous weekend affair. Its proximity to the well-connected Tottenham Court Road, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square Tube stops also make it incredibly easy to visit from anywhere in London.

Events coming up at PizzaExpress Jazz Club

Steinway 2-Piano Festival: Sunday 17 – Sunday 24 March

From 17-24 March, PizzaExpress Jazz Club will be taken over by the Steinway 2-Piano Festival which will celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Throughout the week the venue will be presenting the talents of numerous artists including Joachim Kühn, Gwilym Simcock, Julian Joseph, Gary Husband, Liane Carroll, Alex Wilson and many more.

Ray Gelato: Sunday 30 June 2019

Legendary saxophonist and singer Ray Gelato and his band The Giants are touring the UK and Europe with several special shows to celebrate their 25th anniversary together.

Gelato is renowned for being the UK’s ‘Godfather of Swing’, and this evening will see Gelato and his band perform a winning combo of classic swing songs and popular original ditties.

The band will be playing two shows on 30 June – a matinee show at 1.30pm and an evening show at 8pm – so you’ll have two chances to watch Gelato perform.

Get to know the venue

We sat down with the Music Manager Ross Dine to get to know the Jazz club a little better, what it’s like and what it’s been through.

How did the Jazz Club start out?

“Live music has always been an important part of PizzaExpress. Founder Peter Boizot was a jazz lover and constantly sought ways to include music in his restaurants, whether at PizzaExpress branches from the late 1960s, and at his other ventures Pizza on the Park and Kettner’s from the 1970s. The flagship venue at 10 Dean Street, London has hosted internationally acclaimed music since its first ticketed shows in May 1976.”

What’s been one of your favourite performances over the years?

Impossible question to answer.  I have so many favourites and for various reasons.  The night with Gregory Porter, Jamie Cullum, Shlomo and Mara Carlyle was pretty special.”

How would you say into the club fits into the overall landscape of London’s music scene?

The PizzaExpress Jazz Club is still a bit of a secret gem. Hidden underground in Soho’s Dean St, it’s an Aladdin’s cave of musical treats.  There aren’t many music venues in the world with such great sound, acoustics, piano etc., not to mention great food & service, in a location many consider the centre of the world.

What do you look for when booking musicians?

Many things. In short, world-class live jazz.

What’s a dream artist that you would love to book for the club?

We’ve already had many of our heroes perform at the club.  The late Oscar Peterson would have been first on my list.

As if you ever needed any more reasons to visit the “Aladdin’s cave”, you can find all tickets for events at Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho here

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