U Street Corridor
Twins Jazz || Walk past 1344 U St., and the first thing you’ll hear is the swinging clatter of the drums, or maybe the squall of a trumpet. Turn into the doorway, start up the flight of stairs and you’ll begin to hear the stabbing chords of an accompanying piano. By the time you’re at the club level, with the bar on your left and bandstand to the right, you’ll find yourself strutting to the bassist’s rhythm. Every night of the week but Monday, Twins Jazz offers up exciting acts, usually tilting toward younger musicians on both the national and local scenes but often showcasing D.C.’s jazz elders on the weekends. The club is named for the twin sisters who first opened the place as Twins Lounge in Takoma Park in the 1980s; one of them, Kelly Tesfaye, still keeps a watchful eye on the club every night.
Info || Cover varies ($5-$25), $10 minimum | Food $$, Drinks $$ | Jazz Mon.-Sat., some Sun.
Contax || 1344 U St. NW | 202-234-0072 | Official site, with listings
This charming restaurant and club situated down U Street between 15th and 16th leaves little to be desired — particularly now that it has ramped up its jazz programming significantly. These days, the lineup at Jojo’s looks at times like a veritable who’s who of the District’s finest, making it a happy medium between the prestige of the late Bohemian Caverns and the down-to-earth modesty of many of the District’s restaurant/bar venues. The space is sleek and hospitable, its walls dotted with old black-and-white photos of jazz players. But if you want prime seating, you ought to get there early or make a reservation: the cozy basement room fills up quick, and leaves something to be desired in terms of bar seating (to say nothing of the virtually nonexistent standing room).
Basic info || No cover, 1-drink minimum | Food $$, Drinks $$ | Jazz most days(!)
Contax || 1518 U St. NW | 202-319-9350 | Official site | Official listings
The Brixton: Home to D.C. Jazz Jam || Nestled in the bustling yet pretty block between Florida and Vermont Avenues and U St, The Brixton is a trendy bar with the vibe of an even more upscale establishment. Specialty cocktails and a robust menu assure that your listening ear will be well nourished, and a lofted bar provides a nice view of the U Street corridor. Unfortunately, the Brixton offers only one jazz offering a week: the D.C. Jazz Jam, a city tradition whose previous home, Dahlak, is no longer in business.
Info || No cover | Food $$, Drinks $$ | Jazz Sundays
Contax || 901 U Street NW | 202-560-5045 | Official site, with listings