Music Lovers Head to Kansas City for Jazz

A jazz performer. Photo by Bruce N. Meyer
A jazz performer in Kansas City. Photo by Bruce N. Meyer

Pick up head sets and listen to what distinguishes their sound and the Kansas City sound from others. Listen in on jam sessions or take control of an audio board and see what a little more bass will do to a particular song. Then come back at night to the Blue Room for one of the best live jazz shows in the city.

Where to Experience Kansas City Jazz

True understanding of Kansas City jazz comes after a night in the Blue Room, a part of the American Jazz Museum. This live performance venue was named for the nightclub in the basement of the Street Hotel, a popular Kansas City destination in the 1930s and 40s.

The Blue Room hosts listening parties to help teach adults about the uniqueness of Kansas City jazz. Workshops featuring the music of Duke Ellington and other artists fill the calendar and across the street at the Gem Theatre.

Just around the corner from the Jazz Museum is the Mutual Musician’s Foundation, part union hall, rehearsal hall and jazz joint, which really gets hopping in the wee hours of the weekends. This place is recognized as the longest continuously operating jazz joint in the world and according to Playboy Magazine, one of the top 10 bars in the United States.

Kansas City is the place to go for great jazz. Photo by Bruce N. Meyer
Kansas City is the place to go for great jazz. Photo by Bruce N. Meyer

It’s so special that the state of Missouri has granted special dispensation to serve alcohol past 3 AM; the booze here flows until 6 AM. Each Saturday at midnight, the building is the site of a live radio jazz show on KCUR-FM, Kansas City’s public radio station.

A couple of other good places to hear jazz includes the basement of the Majestic Steakhouse on Broadway, the Drum Room of the Hilton President Hotel, and The Phoenix Jazz Bar.

Tips for Visiting Kansas City for Jazz

  • Keep conversation to a minimum at Kansas City jazz joints, otherwise you’ll receive some hefty frowns from regular patrons.
  • Save money on admission to the American Jazz Museum by purchasing one for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum as well. Both museums tell the story of this community in another time.
  • Cover charges are usually minimal – $5 to$10.
  • Learn more at

Author Bio: Based in the Kansas City metro, Diana Lambdin Meyer and her husband Bruce are both award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers. Follow their journeys around the globe