Baltimore, Maryland Jazz Scene

Rundown of the local jazz scene in Baltimore, Maryland

In much the same way that the Philadelphia jazz scene sits in the shadow of New York’s expansive jazz community, so too does Baltimore sometimes suffer in comparison to Washington, DC, located just 50 miles or so south. DC has the advantage of the subsidies related to tourism and national organizations, who hire jazz musicians for entertainment and thereby help to prop the scene up economically if not creatively. However, also like Philly, Baltimore does have a strong identity all its own, as any regular viewer of The Wire or Homicide could verify. With schools like Towson, Peabody Conservatory and Goucher providing a steady stream of music students who both go to shows and play them, the area is not short on young people passionate about music. It’s also a less expensive place to live than either Washington or New York City, and so several internationally known players, including Gary Bartz, Cyrus Chestnut, Dennis Chambers and Gary Thomas, choose to maintain a residence or presence there.

Cyrus Chestnut
By Dragan Tasic
Michael Formanek with Peabody students Dan Cherouny and Jason Rogers
Gary Bartz

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An Die Musik Live
409 N. Charles Street, 2nd floor
Baltimore, MD
(410) 385-2638

The Wind Up Space
12 West North Avenue
Baltimore, MD
(410) 244-8855

Rams Head Live!
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD
(410) 244-1131

Jazzway 6004
6004 Hollins Ave
Baltimore, MD
(410) 624-2222

Bertha’s Restaurant and Bar
734 South Broadway
Baltimore, MD
(410) 327-5795

The Cat’s Eye Pub
1730 Thames St
Baltimore, MD
(410) 276-9866

Joe Squared Pizza & Bar
133 West North Avenue
Baltimore, MD
(410) 545-0444

Bread and Circuses Bistro
27 East Chesapeake Avenue
Towson, MD
(410) 337-5282

Caton Castle
20 South Caton Avenue
Baltimore, MD
(410) 566-7086

49 West Coffeehouse
49 West Street
Annapolis, MD
(410) 626-9796

Festivals/Special Events

Mount Royal Avenue corridor in Baltimore, MD
Held in mid-July

Canton Wine and Jazz Festival
O’Donnell Square in Canton
Baltimore, MD
Held in late September

Radio Stations/Shows

WYPR 88.1 FM
NPR station with a jazz show hosted by Andy Bienstock, a big band show hosted by Ken Jackson, plus various syndicated public radio jazz shows, such as “Riverwalk Jazz,” “Jazz After Hours” and “Echoes.”

WEAA 88.9 FM
Community radio station, associated with Morgan State University, features many hours of mainstream and contemporary jazz throughout the week.

Education Programs

Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University
1 East Mount Vernon Place
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 234-4500
Peabody offers a BM in jazz performance in trumpet, percussion (drums), double bass, saxophone, flute, piano, guitar, voice. Faculty includes Nasar Abadey, Paul Bollenback, Jay Clayton, Alan Ferber, Michael Formanek, Timothy Murphy, Alexander Norris and Gary Thomas.

Towson University
8000 York Road
Towson, MD 21252
(410) 704-2831
The Jazz/Commercial Music program at Towson University offers bachelor's degrees in Jazz/Commercial Performance and composition. Jazz and music faculty includes Dave Ballou (program director), Jim McFalls, Darryl Brenzel, Frank Russo, Steve Herberman, Tom Lagana, Tim Murphy, Jeremy Ragsdale, Jeff Reed, John Dierker and Eric Trudel.

Goucher College
1021 Dulaney Valley Road
Baltimore, MD 21204

Additional Resources


Let us know by a Comment below if we have omitted any important venues, programs or outlets for jazz in this region.

Information initially compiled by Eli Aleinikoff and Lee Mergner in June 2011.

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