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606 Club In London

606 Club In London

Courtesy Gary Wolff


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The Club has been operating now for over 30 years and has that classic ‘jazz club’ feel about it. It’s relaxed, welcoming and unfussy.
—Steve Rubie
The 606 Club in Chelsea has long been a Mecca for jazz fans who enjoy tasty food and great music. Entered by descending steep steps from the busy, bustling streets in one of London's busiest areas, 606 feels like a secret world where cozy tables, attentive staff, and superb music can be found in abundance. Owner Steve Rubie trained originally as a dentist before going on to study classical flute at Trinity (College, London) and jazz with Peter Ind. We decided the 606 made for the perfect venue for our first Club Profile article.

All About Jazz: Can you give us a brief history of 606?

Steve Rubie: The 606 Club was first started at 606 Kings Road (hence the name) in 1969 by a man called Stephen Cartwright. It was a tiny venue licensed for thirty people which opened at around 10:00 pm and went on most nights to around 3:00/4:00 am. Musicians would come down after their regular gigs to eat, drink, and sit in with whomever was booked on the night. I took it over in 1976. We moved to larger premises (licensed for 165) at Lots Road in 1988 and have been here ever since. The license we were given back in 1988 was a 'restricted' license, which means non-members have to be eating a meal in order to drink alcohol. Our menu is contemporary European and generally considered to be amongst the best of the live music venues.

AAJ: What can visitors expect in terms of music, genres, and acts of note?

SR: We operate seven nights a week and Sunday lunch times/afternoons. We are a live music venue, so the music is fairly eclectic featuring a number of different genres, including Blues, Latin, Soul/Groove, singer/songwriter & Gospel (and even a little bit of rock) but with a central focus on jazz and improvised music, whether instrumental or vocal-led. We are widely regarded to be one of the four major Jazz and jazz-related venues in the UK (along with Ronnie Scott's, Pizza Express Dean St, and the Vortex). Acts of note include the likes of Jamie Cullum, Claire Martin, Ian Shaw, Liane Carroll, Hamish Stuart, Jim Mullen, Soweto Kinch, Dominic Miller (Sting's guitarist), Madeline Bell, Bluey (Incognito), Tim Garland, Jason Rebello and from overseas the likes of Jerry Bergonzi, Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings, Bill Stewart, Ethan Iverson, Jack Wilkins, Lee Konitz etc. It's a pretty long list. We also make a point of providing performance opportunities for up-and-coming young musicians, with various of the artists who have gone on to great careers mentioned above having played at the 606 in their early days.

AAJ: What would you say is the overall vibe of 606? What makes it special and why should visitors make a bee-line for the club?

SR: The Club has been operating now for over 30 years and has that classic 'jazz club' feel about it. It's relaxed, welcoming and unfussy. We strive to be good at everything we do, so not only is the music some of the best you can hear in the UK, but the sound is excellent, and the food is very tasty as well. We are welcoming to everyone interested in live music, no matter who they are and what their preferences might be. We like to think of the 606 audience as a community, where our customers will feel at home!

AAJ: As a musician yourself, how often do you play, and do you have any memorable sessions that come to mind of people you played with there?

SR: I perform at least once a month with my Brazilian band Samara plus a regular gig with a quintet I work with that has a trombone/flute front line called RMQ. Lots of memorable sessions, to be honest. Some great gigs with my Brazilian band, playing regularly with Jamie (Cullum) when he first started, and working with the likes of Liane Carroll and Ian Shaw. Playing with Airto Moreira, Julian Joseph, Jack Wilkins, Harvey S there are too many to remember to be honest!

AAJ: What are your short and long-term goals for 606?

SR: Short-term goal—to survive in an increasingly hostile commercial environment Long-term goal—to survive in an increasingly hostile commercial environment! We are also looking to expand our portfolio of outside events (we currently promote a successful event in the summer at Fulham Palace) and our online presence, utilizing our in-house streaming /filming capability developed during the pandemic to produce content for a '606 TV' channel.

AAJ: Who is your clientele?

SR: Our clientele is enormously diverse, from young people coming to hear the music for the first time to old hands celebrating their 80th birthdays at the Club. Interestingly only about 20% of our customers are local, with people coming from all over London as well as the likes of Kent, Essex, Bedford, Dorset, and Devon on a regular basis. We also have a good overseas presence with customers from pretty every part of the world that is interested in the sort of music we provide. We have a policy of inclusion and it's fair to say that on any given night, the age will range from 20 to 80 and attendees will be from a wide mix of backgrounds, including those performing.

Steve Rubie's Top Five

Related Photos

Courtesy Tatiana Gorilovsky

Courtesy Rob Blackham

Courtesy Samara Imaani

Courtesy Laura G Thorne

Courtesy Gary Wolff

Courtesy Gary Wolff

Courtesy Tatiana Gorilovsky



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Jazz article: 606 Club In London
Club Profile
606 Club In London


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