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The Baltimore, Maryland Jazz Scene

Rundown of the local jazz scene in Baltimore, Maryland

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

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, D.C., located just 50 miles or so south. D.C. 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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keystone Korner Baltimore
1350 Lancaster St.
Baltimore, MD
(410) 946-6726

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

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

Festivals/Special Events

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

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 Institute of the Johns Hopkins University
1 East Mount Vernon Pl.
Baltimore, MD 21202
(667) 208-6500

Peabody offers a B.M. in jazz performance in trumpet, percussion (drums), double bass, saxophone, flute, piano, guitar, voice. Faculty includes Nasar Abadey, Kristopher Funn, Tim Green, Richard D. Johnson, Sean Jones, Quincy Phillips, Matthew Stevens, Charenée Wade, and Warren Wolf.

Towson University
8000 York Rd.
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 Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21204
(410) 337-6148

Additional Resources

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

Originally Published