In sitting down to think of where to start looking for a place in Cardiff which could be considered ‘out of the way’ and ‘secret’, but also a place where one could have a good time, my mind began racing with clichés. Images of small, underground bars populated with government insiders, ex-special forces and hardened investigative journalists flowed alongside those of back alley restaurants boasting marvellous chefs and wonderful craft beers.
During this musing, a scene repeatedly and insistently appeared in my mind. The scene in question comes from the 2014 film Whiplash where near the end of the film, Miles Teller’s character enters a stlyish jazz bar to find J.K. Simmon’s character playing the piano beautifully to a rapt attention of the audience.
While a fairly mundane scene within a masterpiece of a movie, I found something about feel and vibe of the venue which the film conveys to be most alluring. Thus my mind was made up, I would find a jazz club in Cardiff and check it out.
A short peruse on Google pointed me towards the Café Jazz, a Jazz venue on St Mary’s Street which boasted very good reviews for both its music and food. A further peruse of Café Jazz’s website gave me the impression that Thursday night was the best time to visit. Place, Check. Time, Check.
My first impression of Café Jazz on the night itself was pleasingly fitting, the café’s entrance was small and inconspicuous next to the House of Fraser and Prezzo I had just passed. It was a subtle, but welcoming exterior.
Once inside I found myself in an unusual long, narrow room. Having oriented myself I made my way to the bar and got myself a drink, before sitting down in a secluded spot near to the stage where the band was preparing.
A few minutes after the beginning of the night’s music I was totally convinced I had made an excellent choice of venue. I found myself contented and relaxed, nursing my beer as the music washed over me.
The band playing that night were clearly very talented and it did not take them long remind me of the joy of Jazz. Most music is like a flowing river of varying speed and intensity, from the raging white waters of Rammstein to the calm, smooth stream of Pharrell Williams. I have found Jazz to be more like a chess game. A chess game, unlike a stream, is not a singular, constantly flowing mass, but rather a long series of well contemplated individual actions.
As I sat there, I found myself able to pick out and savour every single note by every instrument involved. It felt wonderfully decadent, listening to that band play; it was an exercise in artistic appreciation akin to eating Turkish delight plucked straight from the streets of Istanbul.
As the night went on, the audience filled out, a mixture of socializing groups and lone individuals entering and finding their seats. The two larger groups present that night were eagerly talking amongst themselves, but it was obvious from their demeanour they were here for the music above all else, eyeing the band attentively during lulls in their conversation.
Everyone in the Café Jazz was there for the right reason, making for excellent, polite company. The band were very talented at their craft, playing excellent music and openly enjoying every minute of it. The venue itself was simple and comfortable. I would recommend the Café Jazz to anyone who can appreciate good music and a relaxing night out. I’m sure as hell going to be going back.