Don your red lips, curls and pin-striped suits, and get ready to nestle in to the elegant underground at Melbourne's newest jazz club, Bird's Basement. Located across from Flagstaff Gardens, this music-slash-hospitality venue is a dinner and a show situation — so be prepared to take a seat and make a night of it.
Offering a different take on Melbourne's proffered jazz bars, Bird's Basement caters to those more keen on a sit-down affair — which makes for a good chance to take the folks out. Or your partner's for that matter. But it's still nice to know old friends, like Louie, Ella and Miles, can be found waiting for you.
The interiors of midnight cyan may scream more blues than jazz, but just wait until the horns start. The musicians, wielding the trumpets, trombones and liquorice sticks, have enough energy to get even those not born with the spirit of jazz running through their veins bouncing in their seats.
With two shows held most nights, you can book a 7.45pm dinner or 10pm supper session. The food is Italian, with everything from caprese salads — with thick slices of buffalo mozzarella and roma tomatoes — to four-cheese gnocchi and t-bone steaks. It's good, but not the main event — the jazz is. With a focus on the old, as well as the new, Bird's Basement has seen the likes of Ravi Coltrane and his post-bop sax, the soul and funk tunes of 13-piece Grand WaZoo, and 80s teen star Molly Ringwald come on board as headliners. On the night we visited, the act that had our feet and hearts on fire was Yvette Johansson. This broad created that easy, sassy banter that jazz musicians do so well. And what a remarkable thing to witness a rehearsed scat — those nonsense-slapping syllables — by a professional, rather than your moony Howard friends.
If you've rocked up to the earlier session, know that, once the show is winding down, the staff will hustle you to pay. But we suppose that's how jazz clubs roll. And while the food and service may not have been up to the standard of other Melbourne establishments, Bird's Basement delivers a musical feast you can't find just anywhere. Which makes us wonder: maybe there's a gap in the market for more musical supper clubs in Melbourne? If you're keen to find out, fly on in to the Basement, you little jazzy beauties.
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