For students on a budget, it’s hard to beat the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra. These cats play two sets every Monday night at — you guessed it — Bohemian Caverns. They’re D.C.’s only resident big band, and believe us when we say they swing HARD. It’s ten bucks for both sets, there’s no drink or food minimum, and the basement club actually looks like a cave. The action starts at 8:00 on the corner of 11th and U St., but get there early to grab a seat. Unlike some other clubs, the Caverns isn’t 21 and up, but you’ll need a fake to buy a drink if you aren’t of age. If you’re too angsty to get out on a Monday, Bohemian’s got top-notch acts coming through every weekend as well, although they usually cost quite a bit more.
If ten dollars is still stretching it, keep an eye out for jam sessions at Columbia Station, HR-57, the D.C. Jazz Loft, and Westminster Presbyterian Church. If there’s anything that deserves the title of “real D.C. jazz” it’s these communal gigs chock full of local talent. The Loft is especially cool, bringing the District’s best to a hip, DIY style location on the second Sunday of each month. And if you play, drag your horn down to a jam and test your chops. As one critic told me, “There’s never any negativity on this scene”, so don’t be shy!