The smooth, soulful sounds of jazz might originate from the humid streets of New Orleans, but this genre is just as at home in the bay of Cardiff as it is in the American heartlands.
Whether you want to sit down with a cocktail and soak up the rhythmic sounds, or indulge in a meal with a bottle of wine as a saxophone plays, there are plenty of jazz-influenced bars, cafés and nights in the Welsh capital to suit your mood.
We’ve curated the best places in Cardiff to catch some world-class jazz.
AmserJazz Time at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Every Friday between 5:30pm and 7pm, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama puts on a jazz performance at its college on the edge of Bute Park, with a side serving of tapas.
Featuring two bands each week, the night sees high-quality talent from some of Wales’ most exciting musicians and gives you the opportunity to catch jazz stars of the future.
The performances take place in the foyer of the college building, an architecturally striking room with a huge glass wall overlooking Bute Park. The tapas menu, which only runs on Fridays, includes delectable dishes such as calamari, vegetable fritters, stuffed peppers and BBQ ribs. House wine and prosecco are also available.
Castle Grounds, Cathays Park CF10 3ER
One of the newer spots on the jazz circuit of Cardiff, Bootlegger runs regular music nights, from rock ‘n’ roll, to swing, blues and jazz. You might even catch a sprinkling of northern soul.
Cardiff’s very own speakeasy on Womanby Street brings a slice of America to the Welsh capital, celebrating the end of prohibition with Happy Hours every night and free entry for all live music.
5A Womanby St CF10 1BR
Specialising in quirky craft beers, Tiny Rebel is home to Cardiff’s newest monthly jazz night from 9pm on the second Thursday of every month.
Grab a locally brewed bottle at this industrial-style venue and relax in its vibey atmosphere. Don’t expect concert-hall style audiences here, though – there’s no quiet listening at Tiny Rebel. These top-tapping tunes are background noise for late night conversations and the clinking of pint glasses.
35 Westgate Street CF10 1DD
Situated in the heart of Cardiff, Café Jazz is a renowned venue for the music community in the city. With jazz nights running most evenings, you can enjoy a sit-down meal and a drink as you tap your feet to the rhythmic sounds of the music. Acts are mostly local musicians, but they sometimes have visiting artists.
Head down every Tuesday evening for band performances from The Preservation Jazz Society, playing traditional and New Orleans jazz.
Look out for their student-run Hackensack night, on the first Thursday every month, where students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama play a set, followed by an exciting group of touring musicians in the second half of the evening.
21 St Mary St CF10 1PL
Ffresh (Welsh Millenium Centre)
Head to Cardiff’s iconic Millenium Centre to enjoy some jazz gigs at the Ffresh bar.
Within this elegant bistro, the food is the star. Head Chef Marc Corfields serves up small plates and bar snacks, inspired by his time working at the Michelin-starred The Walnut Tree.
Although jazz nights aren’t a regular occurrence, make sure you check their events website regularly so you can book in for these live music nights in a landmark Welsh building.
Bute Pl CF10 5AL
The Flute & Tankard
The Flute & Tankard pub at Windsor Place holds jazz evenings upstairs every Tuesday and Wednesday.
Local bands play alongside national touring groups in an intimate setting that brings the beauty of jazz to the fore.
The venue fully support musicians, with all profits going to performing acts.
4 Windsor Pl CF10 3BX
St David’s Hall: Jazz on the Level
St David’s Hall is one of those great, hulking concrete beasts that are so often the home of artistic communities in UK cities. Their brutalist architecture might make them an eyesore for some, but just like the Barbarian in London, St David’s true beauty lies within its grey walls.
Specifically on level 3, where Cardiff’s own Capital City Jazz Orchestra play regular ‘Jazz On The Level’ nights with different well-known guests joining them on stage each time. Tapas dishes and drinks are available during performances. You will need to buy a ticket from the website for all events.
9-11 The Hayes CF10 1AH
If you’re up for a dance, rather than placid listening, then head to Porter’s on Bute Terrace.
The buzz of this bar on a Friday night is enough to lift anyone’s spirits. Locals suggest that the atmosphere makes you feel like you’re sitting on holiday somewhere in a far-away, sun-filled city.
Keep an eye on their Facebook page for up and coming jazz events.
Harlech Court, Bute Terrace CF10 2FE
The Exchange Hotel Cardiff
R.P Culley & Co. Bar and Restaurant at The Exchange Hotel is the perfect place to enjoy a indulgent meal before you head off for some late night jazz.
Situated in the historic coal exchange building at the heart of the city, Culleys is a stone’s throw away from many of the best jazz bars and venues in Cardiff, making it the perfect start to a soul-filled evening.
Pick from a decadent, locally sourced menu while you enjoy the history-filled interior of this landmark building and let your hair down with a cocktail (or two) before you venture out to the darkened jazz clubs of the city.
And if you’re looking to stay in Cardiff after a night of incredible live music, why not book into The Exchange Hotel and enjoy the luxurious accommodation, complete with sumptuous amenities including spa baths, flat screen TVs, and comfortable double beds?
Our staff would be more than happy to point you in the direction of the best live music venues in the city.
To book a table at Culleys or enquire about staying at the The Exchange Hotel, call our friendly team today on 029 2010 7050. We look forward to helping you discover the incredible culture of Cardiff.