Brian Settles of the Thad Wilson Big Band

Like jazz itself, Bohemian Caverns revels in its own history. It was opened in 1926 and despite the piano marquee at the entrance to the street-level restaurant, the unmarked door to the basement club practically screams “speak-easy.” Down the narrow stairs is a small, candlelit room wrapped in fiberglass “stone”; a bar sits at one end, tables at the other, couches in one corner, and a stage in the middle. This is the intimate atmosphere in which titans from Armstrong and Ellington to Gillespie and Davis left their mark on D.C. But the local acts on the club’s rotation, as well as the big names who stop in on tour, hold their own against the ghosts of those legends. Add a Belgian beer selection and staffers who are outwardly gruff but learn the names of the regulars, and you’ve got the crowd-drawing headquarters of Washington’s jazz scene. W

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