Dr. Drew's Guide to Jazz Life in Honolulu


Some of my Photos Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Sorry, but I rarely update this page.


You can get weekly listings of jazz happenings at the Honolulu Jazz Scene. Webmaster Clay, is truly doing a great service, however, you should check with the venue before following his or my suggestions as events do change. He adds new jazz happenings that are sent his way, but rarely removes gigs that are no longer happening, so please surf over to the venue's website first or give the place a call. A few musicians have their own MySpace accounts, blogs, and e-mail lists for updated info. I've provided links to musicians' sites when I have them.

Jazz promoter David Rohner has a website with updates on his weekly gigs at the Dragon Upstairs (Mondays and weekends) and Sarento's (Thursdays).

You really have to check out these websites, as there is no one place for jazz in Honolulu. Jazz Minds Art & Cafe (1661 Kapiolani Blvd., tel: 945-0800) was started with a dream of being Honolulu's dedicated jazz venue, but more often seems to feature comedy, salsa, reggae or hiphop these days.

Some good regular jazz gigs now include:

DeShannon Higa knows his standards, and has real funky riffs with a bit of edge (which is the way i like it!). Higa's gr00ve.imProV.arTiSts or The Listening Party play some evenings around town. Higa's Quadpod plays at the Dragon Upstairs (above Hanks Cafe on 1038 Nu'uanu St.) in Chinatown.

The Satomi Yarimizo Quartet (above) plays Saturdays at the Dragon Upstairs (above Hanks Cafe on 1038 Nu'uanu St.) in Chinatown. [Calendar]. My favorite days to catch this are when she plays with DeShannon Higa and saxaphonist Reggie Padilla as Bop Tribal (twice a month). Satomi also plays on Sundays at the Chuck's Cellar (Ohana East Hotel, 150 Kaiulani Ave). I should add that Reggie has a band called Family Dinner.

If you like straight-ahead jazz, there are gigs various evenings at the Mariposa Bar in Neiman Marcus (Ala Moana) (Check out Miles Jackson's Milestone Jazz Trio).

The Honolulu Club (932 Ward Ave) had some good gigs and was talking of reviving the jazz gigs (6 - 9 pm, 932 Ward Ave, 7th floor).

Shoji Ledward had regular guitar gigs at the Contemporary Museum Café and Formaggio (2919 Kapiolani Blvd./ Market City Shopping Center, 739-7719)

NEW JASS QUARTET used to make Thursday appearances (along with discounted sushi and no cover) at Sansei Seafood Bar and Sushi Waikiki (@ the Marriot Hotel, 2552 Kalakaua Ave). I'm not sure if this is still happening.

Jackie Ward has some private gigs at her home. They are not public, but are a lot of fun.


Check out Don Gordon spinning jazz platters weekdays (M-TH) from 8 PM to midnight on Hawaii Public Radio station KIPO (89.7 FM) and streaming online. (I'm not a big fan of Seth Markow's The Real Deal, but that is on Friday and Saturday mights, and supposedly has featured jazz for 25 years). KIPO also offers "Piano Jazz on with Marian McPartland" and "Jazz After Hours" (after midnight on Saturday).

University station KTUH (90.3 FM) plays/ streams jazz at various times. Justin James and Ryan Kunimura had a great show on Tuesday mornings that played really hip jazz frontiers. [Other alternative: BBC Jazz Player]

Honolulu doesn't have a great indie jazz record store, but you can find some CDs and LPs at Hungry Ear Records in Kailua. Also check out the State Public Library System and UH's Sinclair Library.


  1. Musicians coming out this way sometimes ask me for help. My advice is to check out Craigslist or contact the musicians and venues listed above.
  2. These recommendations certainly do not represent the views of my employer.
  3. I am not a musician, and don't have any connections with these musicians or venues.
  4. Enjoy. Drew. (Last Revised: January 2011 briefly).