BANGKOK — With dream couple Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s retro romance seizing hearts and every Golden Globe it was nominated for, fingers have been snapping for “La La Land,” even before it was released in Thai theatres.
Thailand is no stranger to jazz, but that interest has been rekindled by the story of Mia, an ambitious barista with Hollywood dreams, and her introduction to jazz by Sebastian the pianist. The musical features an original score of more than a dozen jazz numbers including Golden Globe-winning “City of Stars,” sung by Gosling and Stone.
For those who left the rom-com musical’s 128 minutes wanting more, here are some fine places in Bangkok worth checking out to get in the mood again.
Founded three decades ago near Lumphini Park, this jazz and blues bar now in Phra Nakhon has long ranked as one of the best in the city. Local and international acts play regularly, including performers from reality singing competition “The Voice” and a nine-piece band called Big to the Future, aka B2F.
Brown Sugar is located on Phra Sumen Road, only a kilometer from Khaosan Road. It’s closed Mondays.
For some years now, this richly appointed three-floor bar has been a hip venue for Bangkok night owls with a reliable flow of fine cocktails and music. The upper levels and roof are a bit more laid-back, with people drinking and talking.
Smalls sits on the corner of Soi Suan Phlu 1. Take a cab or moto from MRT Lumphini or BTS Chong Nonsi.
Inside a two-floor shophouse-bar on Phra Athit Road, Jazz Happens was founded by a group of music lecturers at Silpakorn University and remains a friendly, groovy atmosphere with a few menu items from Singha beer to grilled pork neck.
The venue recruits music students and up-and-coming artists such as Rasmee Isan Soul, a singer-songwriter with northeastern roots who mixes mor lam and Soul.
4Saxophone Pub and Restaurant
For great jazz, a big meal and bigger sound, this two-floor jazz bar in European style serves a rocking vibe along with Thai dishes and drinks. The must-hear regulars include Koh Mr. Saxman, Lek T-Bone, The Emergency, Neung Jakkawal and many more.
Saxophone Pub and Restaurant can be reached by foot from BTS Victory Monument’s exit No. 4.
Nestled in Charoen Krung’s Talad Noi neighborhood, Soul Bar features the tasteful sounds of soul, funk and jazz. Make sure to grab a beer to enjoy with the complimentary crispy fried bananas.
Guest acts take the stage along with four house bands: Mother Fucky Band, Bank the Voice and NRG Band, Supergoods and The Lowdowns. Live music plays 9pm until late Wednesday through Saturday.
6Evil Man Blues
Step into a neon-lit cocktail bar in Thonglor to get in the mood for the American 60s.
The bar plays funk, R&B and old school hip-hop while jazz is given sound Wednesday through Saturday nights by jazz guitarist Dan Phillips and the Bangkok Edge Quartet.
Evil Man Blues is on the ground floor of Thonglor’s community mall 72 Courtyard located on Soi Sukhumvit 55, a short motorbike ride from BTS Thong Lo.
Be impressed by the 1920s Shanghai speakeasy theme, cocktails and more at this theme basement-level bar on lower Silom Road.
Live performances go off every night, ranging from jazz bands, costumed dolls on swings, drag queen shows and more, all amid the underground ambience.
Maggie Choo is in the basement of the Novotel Fenix Silom hotel and can be reached by taxi from BTS Surasak, BTS Chong Nonsi or MRT Silom.
8The Iron Fairies
Head to this fairytale-themed bar on Mondays for open-mic night. While jazz bands are available on the mezzanine nightly, sometimes the singer descends the spiral staircase to make a scene. For an unforgettable night you may not remember, try the absinthe martini.
The Iron Fairies is located on Soi Sukhumvit 55 at Soi Thong Lo 14. Hop on a motorbike from BTS Thong Lo.
It’s fancy, definitely high on the hi-so meter, and with 64 years of history, the oldest jazz bar in Bangkok.
Said to have hosted top talents such as Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Louise Armstrong and Mick Jagger, Bamboo Bar sets a high bar for expectations. Live bands start at 9pm every night. Dress smart.
Bamboo Bar is located inside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel by the river on Soi Charoen Krung 40.