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The Spin Club rocks!

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Down this wonderfully grubby little passageway in central Oxford is one of the best jazz clubs in the UK.

I’ve mentioned the Spin Jazz club on the Muddy Guide before but this is the first time I’ve made it to a gig, and it was really fantastic.

Up to stairs to the Spin Club

Up the stairs to the Spin Club

Not a turtle-neck or cigarillo in sight (though admittedly a couple of head-nodders at the front), this is a totally unpretentious jazz venue, bringing in the best jazz musicians in the country and beyond – I mean, last year Nigel Kennedy came in and played a gig for the Spin’s birthday which is beyond impressive. So the standard of musicians is incredibly high, and yet the venue is teeny tiny because it’s literally above The Wheatsheaf Pub off Oxford’s High St, directly opposite the high street entrance to the Covered Market.


I saw the Chris Allard band and they were fantastic, though it was a bit disconcerting as the sax player looked like a young Gordon Brown, and the guitarist after a few pints of cider started to morph into Tony Blair. It was like Granita all over again but with extra funk. Look, and there’s Alastair Campbell on keyboards!

There are a handful of tabled seats and frankly I’ve got to an age where only bum parkage will do. If you book in advance online you can snap up a table, otherwise standing room is absolutely fine because let me tell you, the venue is so small you can see the band clearly wherever you are. I’d say it’s 15 metres from the entrance to the stage.

Mark, drummer, club impressario, all round nice guy at The Spin

Mark, drummer, club impressario, all round nice guy at The Spin

I met the guys who run The Spin Club – see Mark above – who are just lovely, and unusually, all musicians who act as the club’s house band. So when the likes of Nigel Kennedy show up, they play with him. No slouches then, and it no doubt helps them to gain access and credibility with musicians who might turn their noses up at such a small venue.

The bar area

The bar area

The Spin was shortlisted for four years running for Best Live Jazz venue before winning in 2012, but somehow the local press don’t seem to pick up on them much so I am taking on the baton and strumming with it. (See what I did there? Bring on the BiB’s Best Writer Award!).

If you’re thinking The Spin sounds quite impressive but jazz isn’t your thing, I should just PS this post by saying that I’m not massively jazzy either, but somehow the intimacy of the venue and quality of the musicians, plus the fact that you can have a nice dinner before the 9pm show in central Oxford, carried the day for me.

The club only operates every other Thursday so choose the musicians that suit you best and enjoy Ronnie Scotts’ standard jazz a whole lot closer to home. And um, without letting any cats out of bags – for I am banned from blabbing –  let’s just say that the Spin’s 15th birthday party is on 3rd June (a Tuesday rather than the usual Thursday) and a momentously cool guest will be appearing at the show. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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