How a hip Swansea bar made jazz music a Monday staple in Uplands
It was an idea that came about after a bar owner noticed a distinct lack of jazz sound in Swansea on a Monday night. And now, 12 years later, audiences young and old are flocking to Uplands to get their weekly fix.
In 2010, Noah Redfern decided to throw a jazz night at Noah’s Yard after the former Monkey bar in Swansea town center, which had hosted one, closed for good.
With the help of artists like the Dave Cottle Trio, the Gething Liddington Quartet, Dick Hamer, Jango Haze, Elaina Hoss, Dom Norcross, the Groucho Club, the Tommy Harris Quartet, Paul Smith, Gary Phillips, Afternoon in Paris and the legendary bassist Alun Vaughan, the night went from strength to strength. Get stories from Swansea straight to your inbox with our newsletter.
And it’s not the only jazz night in the Uplands. The Swansea Jazz Club, which has been around since 1949, hosts an evening at the Garage on the first Friday and subsequent Thursdays of each month. It used to be known as Swansea Jazzland but was relaunched as Swansea Jazz Club in 2021. You can find out more about it by clicking here. And you can find out more about Mr. Cottle, the man behind the club, by clicking here.
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Mr Redfern said: “I felt Uplands needed a jazz night. There was a successful jazz night on Monday at the old Cafe Monkey set up by Amanda Davey and Paul Dyke, and it went on for several years and has been extremely Monkey closed down and I just felt something was missing on a Monday which is usually the most boring night of the week as not much going on.
“Swansea is blessed with amazing jazz musicians, more than Cardiff. We are leading the way in the jazz world more than Cardiff, just with the number of jazz bands we have here and the jazz scene. Dave Cottle is responsible for it, and his father is responsible for it, and now Dave Cottle’s son is part of it.There are three generations of jazz musicians in the Cottle family who have literally traveled the world spreading their jazz expertise.
“Monday night was available and I saw a little jazz band playing at Bar Saint James, and during intermission I asked them to start playing for us, and they became the house band and that’s gone from there. It was a huge hit and it’s been jazz every Monday since, except in a pandemic. People loved it from the start and it’s a mix of all ages, some of the The oldest patrons are in their 80s, some of the youngest are teenagers. It’s an evening enjoyed by people of all ages from all walks of life.”
Jazz Night takes place every Monday and consists of two 45 minute sets from 8.30pm to 10.30pm, with a different band performing each week, alternating between 10 different bands, with occasional guest artists. You can just show up and arrive around 8pm to get a good seat. An event will be held to celebrate 12 years of jazz at Uplands at Noah’s Yard with the Grand Theater’s head saxophonist Dick Hamer on May 23.
“It definitely put Uplands on the map for a weekly jazz night,” Mr. Redfern said. “I’m proud of what he’s become, it’s my favorite night of the week. At the end of the day, he supports our community as well.”
It’s not the only jazz you can expect in the city. The Swansea International Jazz Festival runs from June 23-26, with ticketed performances at the Dylan Thomas Theater and a free buggy program at venues in the Maritime Quarter.