3111 N. Western Ave.,
Best new: For years, the drummer and impresario about town Mike Reed has been Chicago’s wandering shepherd of avant-garde jazz. Wherever Reed went, sonically weird music followed. In May, after setting up at venues from the Hungry Brain to the Skylark, Reed finally settled down: He bought the warehouse-like old Viaduct Theater space at Belmont and Western Avenues and turned it into the city’s best new bar for live jazz on the fringe (plus some dance programming, produced by Links Hall). On August 9, Tortoise’s Jeff Parker performs.

Jazz Showcase

806 S. Plymouth Ct., 312-360-0234,
Best Overall: Quieter than the Green Mill and less touristy than Andy’s, this intimate South Loop venue is a haven for die-hards. The steep cover ($20) gets you up close with performers such as the Grammy-winning bassist Esperanza Spalding and the progressive New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton.