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The Champaign Urbana Jazz Scene

The Jazz Scene in Champaign Urbana

Melissa Merli led off this e3 series with an over view of Jazz venues around the area and I will feature 13 of them. Why are there so many? They come and go, but they are on the increase now due to a renaissance of the Jazz Studies Program at the University of Illinois. Now populated by some 85 talented students, it is led by famed sax man Chip McNeill.

Here are 13 options for jazz in Champaign Urbana:

1.The grandaddy is The Iron Post in Urbana. Almost every night of the week you can hear good jazz cheap in this hole in the wall at 120 S. Race, Urbana. Food is basic, acoustics close, and the jazz is great. 2. Caffe Paradisio near campus has mostly U of I students honkin and strummin and beatin it most Friday and Saturdays. 801 S Lincoln, U. 3. Illini Union Courtyard Cafe features live jazz noon Thursdays and sometimes in the evenings….during school session mainly. 4.The historic Red Herring at 1209 W Oregon right on the U of I campus hosts jazz gigs Friday evenings. This cool old coffee house/ cafe is also a good place to eat. 5. Krannert Center for the Performing Arts regularly features live jazz including their free “Krannert Uncorked” lobby concerts on Thursday evening and their innovative Jazz Threads project. 6. Room 25, basement of Smith Memorial Hall on campus. Jazz forum at noon Fridays. 7. The Great Impasta in the east side of Lincoln Square Village, Urbana. Local pianist legend Donnie Heiltler (in the above video) tickles em here every Wednesday, 6-9p. Heitler also plays in other cafes. 8. Buvon’s Wine Bar in side the Corkscrew Wine Emporium is a cool new place that has jazz most Friday and Saturday evenings. 203 N Vine, U.   NOPE—it is closed now! 9. Silvercreek (perfect hang out for silver haired geeks), 5-7 Fridays at 402 N Race, U. This is a great restaurant and during this jazz session they have 1/2 price bar food- like really good bar food.- like not bar food at all and cheap. 10. Zorbas, after being closed from a fire this place is back and watch for details of when they will have jazz.  602 W Green, C. 11. The Cowboy Monkey in downtown Champaign is a great hangout for food and all kinds of music including jazz from time to time. Note:when you go to their site, turn the volume down a bit first. 12. Alto Vineyards just northwest of town is a neat summer place for all kinds of jazz…outdoors! Usuallky from May through September. 13. Danville has some options…as well as Monas Steak and Spirits down in Atwood- whooda thunk in Atwood. OK there you go. None of them are Birdland or The Village Vangaurd, but you can get some serious jazz in the CU area.