The Pizza Express Jazz Club offers a pleasant dining experience with some talented jazz performers that often surpass expectation. Enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year, the restaurant is a casual alternative to the more traditional and expensive jazz clubs. For nearly 40 years this basement club in the heart of Soho has been one of London’s favorite jazz night-spots with its intimate atmosphere and wide ranging music policy.
Pizza Express Jazz Club may well be smaller than some of the capitol’s other live rooms but its classy interior and close audience to stage proximity ensures that each gig brings the best out of both. As a restaurant chain founded in the 1940 by Peter Boizot MBE, whose trip to Florence inspired him to create a pizza chain that prided itself on serving fresh, handmade pizzas, Pizza Express has long supported jazz in some of its larger restaurants around the UK.
Yet the flagship Dean Street London restaurant remains the jewel in the company’s crown and since its re-launch in 1996 (conducted by Van Morrison), has proved itself as a consistently capable of booking some of the biggest names in jazz, with a sensibility for promoting rising stars and legends alike.
Often a place where some of today’s household names made their UK debuts or exclusive performances, the likes of Diana Krall, Brad Mehldau, Danilo Perez, Avishai Cohen, Mose Alllison, Peter White, Richard Bona, Rokia Traoré and a certain Jamie Cullum made an early showcase, while Norah Jones made her European debut, with Amy Winehouse and Peter Cincotti making early important performances there – Sting even took to the stage for an impromptu version of ‘Round Midnight once – such is the venue’s credibility and popularity.
The Pizza Express Jazz Club is at its best during the London Jazz Festival when the venue buzzes with energy and is regularly packed with pizza lovers and jazz enthusiasts. The menu recently got a long overdue update as well and is packed with innovative combinations such as shrimps and créme fraîche and yellow fin tuna with anchovies and grana padano cheese.
Smooth Jazz artists in 2011 were Oli Silk, Peter White, Rick Braun, Marc Antoine, Richard Elliot, Jessy J, Chuck Loeb and many more. There will be no change in 2012.