Long-running Edinburgh jazz bar saved under new reopening plans

It may survive a second set-back in its two-decade long existence

A popular Edinburgh music venue appears set to be saved from permanent closure under reopening plans.

The Jazz Bar has hosted various musicians, from Louis Durra to Ravi Coltrane, in its 19-year residency on Edinburgh’s Chambers Street. It was announced in April the venue was closing down, with the owners blaming the cost-of-living crisis and operational challenges for the decision.

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However, the venue looks set to be saved following the assets of The Jazz Bar being purchased.

Ravi Coltrane - one of the musicians who's played at The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh Pic: Hiroyuki Ito/GettyRavi Coltrane - one of the musicians who's played at The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh Pic: Hiroyuki Ito/Getty
Ravi Coltrane - one of the musicians who's played at The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh Pic: Hiroyuki Ito/Getty

The Jazz Bar was open seven days a week and hosted as many as four different gigs in the one day. It has been one of the main venues used for the annual Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival and has also staged an extensive Fringe programme since it opened its doors in 2005.

The bar's assets, name, social media and license have been bought by a new company called The Jazz Bar Edinburgh CIC, which has been set up by local couple Nick and Justyna Mushlin. The couple were helped by former staff, sound engineers and musicians, who “dug deep” to allow them to make the purchase, a statement said.

The Jazz Bar was founded by drummer Bill Kyle several years after his previous venue, the Bridge Jazz Bar, was destroyed in the huge Old Town fire in 2002, less than a year after it had opened its doors. The venue was run by Kyle’s daughter, Edith, after he passed away in 2016.

A post on Instagram referencing the bar’s original owner said: “We would not have been able to do any of this if it weren’t for the love that runs deep for The Jazz Bar and all it stands for, for the family that was built from Bill Kyle’s dream."

One comment posted underneath the announcement made on social media said “genuinely so happy about this, it’s hard to put into words”.

The couple is now looking for support to get the venture off the ground through the launch of a crowdfunder, with the Jazz & Blues Festival in July and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August looming ever closer.

Charitable organisation Music Venue Trust have supported the Mushlins to create a community interest company to secure a 75 per cent rebate on business rates and VAT exemption on ticket sales for the resurrected venue.

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They say that this non-profit social enterprise plans to channel operating surplus back into the venue, with all assets locked into and owned by this business model, as opposed to private individuals.

The crowdfunder has been set up to help with start-up costs and is designed to help repay some short-term personal loans. According to the crowdfunding site, they have a target of £35,000 and, in 24 hours, had already exceeded the £5,000 mark.

A target of £10,000 will allow those behind the venue’s revival to carry out essential maintenance on the venue, while £35,000 will cover logistics, including staff and marketing.

If the couple manage to raise £50,000, it will be invested in better sound and lighting equipment and to take on youth development projects, including music workshops and afternoon shows. There are 13 days left to donate.

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