Best Jazz Club for Newbies

1610 14th St. NW; (202) 667-3700
For those who really want to check out the music without the distractions that come with full-on dinner and bar service (which eliminates the otherwise excellent option of Café Nema), there’s really only one choice: HR-57. The large club is the size of a restaurant but gets by with snacks and drinks so the focus can remain on the Washington musicians who fill its schedule. The regular rotation includes the Saltman Knowles ensemble, as well as bands led by saxophonist Antonio Parker and drummer Jimmy “Junebug” Jackson; bigger names, such as pianists Eric Lewis and Chuchito Valdes, also stop in whenever they’re in town. The real action at HR-57, though, lies in the jam sessions that take place every Tuesday and Wednesday night. It’s a chance to hear the city’s most seasoned players and greenest young aspirants playing together, with all the rawness and sparks that make for the best live jazz.