My experiences with jazz in Dubai have mainly been a joke – you have Mariah Carey heading up the “jazz fest”, a recent “swing” band I saw turned out to be a duo covering pop songs and even last weekend, the band at a “jazz brunch” at Imperium turned out to be no more than an average cover band with a singer over-singing her way through every song you’ve heard a million times before, from every other cover band in Dubai. Yawn.
Admittedly, when hearing that the Palazzo Versace had opened a jazz bar earlier this year, I approached with trepidation. Having visited the famous Ronnie Scott’s in London and Blue Note in Tokyo in recent times, I have a very biased opinion on how a jazz bar should look and feel and with Versace being famed for its ostentatiousness, I was worried that the aesthetics would be compromised to fit in with the hotel’s name. Thankfully, I was oh so very wrong.
When I walked into Q’s for the first time and saw the stage set up with a saxophone, full drum kit, double bass and keys, I knew they meant business.
The venue is set up just how a jazz bar should be; the stage is the focal point, the lighting is moody and the seating comfortable. When the band kicked off, I knew we were going to be in for an amazing evening – finally, true jazz brought to the shores! The musicianship of both evenings I attended was exemplary and each time the crowd watched on in awe, as Ollie Howell, Katie Thiroux and their respective bands ripped through 3 sets of original music and compositions of standards. I never expected a band like Ollie’s to cover “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, but the arrangement was fantastic and the whole crowd loved it.
Sometimes, when a venue focuses itself on attracting world-class artists, the food, drink and service can falter as the budgets dry up; again, not in the case of Q’s. We were greeted like family on both occasions and the friendly service-staff were always there, ensuring our drinks were topped up and that we were well fed. Over my visits, I ordered a mix of food from the menu and it was all of a good quality, the shrimp gumbo and slow-cooked beef ribs being the absolute must-haves.
The bar also has an extensive drinks menu, with various signature cocktails to suit any palate. My highlight being the audacious “Walking in Space”, containing smooth-as-silk, Chivas Ultis whisky, vermouth and bitters, finished off with a spritz from the atomizer.
If you’re a big fan of jazz, enjoy great bar food and exciting cocktails, Quincy Jones’ first jazz bar is definitely for you; if you don’t like jazz or don’t appreciate world-class musicianship, then I’d give it a miss!
FOOD: 11/15 – For a bar that is not particularly publicizing it’s food offerings (most likely due to Enigma next door), they knock up some pretty good grub! Get the slow cooked beef ribs, it was great.
SERVICE: 15/15 – Up there with the best, there was a gap of a couple of months between my two visits and they’d retained the same team who recognized me immediately and even remembered my drinks selections – the team made both nights extra special.
DRINKS SELECTION: 4.5/5 – Huge selection of excellent cocktails, spirits, whiskys, gins, you name it!
AMBIANCE: 4/5 – Fantastic acoustics mean that the bands sound spine-tinglingly awesome and it’s so refreshing to get some genuine, world-class jazz musicians to visit Dubai. Jazz bars are notoriously smoky though, and the non-smoking area isn’t quite as stink-proof as hoped!
DESIGN: 5/5 – Exactly how a jazz bar should be. Not flashy, but perfectly executed for what it needs to be.
VALUE: 3.5/5 – It’s very, very pricey – but when you take into account the quality of the musicians, you’d usually have to pay to see them in the US so the costs are justified in my opinion.
CONCLUSION: Simply, my favourite bar in Dubai. Excellent staff, great drinks and if you love jazz music like me, you’ll have a sensational evening.