FIVE GREAT PLACES FOR JAZZ

In mid-September jazz musicians and fans from around the world will converge on Monterey County for the Monterey Jazz Festival. But that's not the only time to hear great jazz in Monterey County.

Many jazz musicians, including several regular performers at the Monterey Jazz Festival, live in the area year ‘round and keep their musical edge honed by playing at local venues. Here's our list of five of the best spots to hear great jazz throughout the year.

1. Cibo Ristorante Italiano

Cibo Ristorante Italiano has been named "Best Club for Jazz" in local polls for years. Visit on Sunday night through Saturday night, and you'll see why. The sounds range from cocktail jazz to soulful jazz/funk. 301 Alvarado St. (corner of Alvarado St. and Del Monte Avenue), Monterey.

2. Mission Ranch Restaurant

It's no surprise that Mission Ranch Hotel and Restaurant in Carmel would be a top spot for jazz; after all, the establishment is owned by actor/director Clint Eastwood, who has made several jazz-themed films. Hear piano jazz in the Piano Bar seven days a week from 8-11:30pm (don't be surprised if you spot Clint), and make sure to visit the legendary jazz brunch on Sundays. 26270 Dolores St., Carmel.

3. Fireplace Lounge, Hyatt Regency Monterey

There's one spot that's especially famous for post-Jazz Festival jam sessions by legendary musicians: the Fireplace Lounge at the Hyatt Regency Monterey. The venue keeps the jazz spirit going throughout the year with Friday and Saturday night jazz music. The current resident and music director is jazz drummer Dr. David Morwood, who is also one of Monterey County's top surgeons. Morwood often has frequent MJF players like Lee Durley and Gary Meek drop in to jam with him. 1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey.

4. Lobby Lounge, The Inn at Spanish Bay

When you're done listening to the bagpiper play in the sunset at Spanish Bay, head inside to enjoy some classic jazz trio sounds. The Lobby Lounge at The Inn at Spanish Bay has a jazz trio on Thursday nights from 7-10pm and Friday and Saturday nights until 11pm. (In the afternoons, catch bonus piano jazz at the Terrace Lounge at The Lodge at Pebble Beach.) 2700 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach.

5. Sunset Lounge, Hyatt Carmel Highlands

Spectacular views, top-notch cocktails and great jazz - what could be a better mix? The Sunset Lounge at Hyatt Carmel Highlands in Carmel Highlands pulls Monterey Jazz Festival regulars like Steve Ezzo and Lee Durley every Friday and Saturday evening. Watching the sun set over the rocky California coast as you listen to top-notch jazz and sip a top-shelf scotch is a truly Monterey County way to celebrate the weekend. 120 Highlands Drive, Carmel, CA.

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