There are a number of nice jazz rooms in Los Angeles, but none as accessible and forward-thinking as the Blue Whale. Joon Lee's dark, low-key room atop Little Tokyo's Weller Court consistently books some of the most important jazz musicians not just locally but globally — we're talking folks like John Daversa and Dwight Trible. It's an indispensable part of the scene, and it's actually a very pleasant place to hang out. People bring dates and sometimes, believe it or not, there are more women inside than men. (OK, that doesn't happen very often.) In any case, the Blue Whale has done a lot to boost the city's jazz profile, and it gives some really great musicians ample space to stretch out. 123 Astronaut E.S. Onizuka St., Ste. 301, Little Tokyo. (213) 620-0908, bluewhalemusic.com.
—Sean J. O'Connell