Live Jazz in Wales
There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy live jazz performances in Wales, with many venues holding regular jazz nights each week. Swansea Jazzland, Café Jazz in the centre of Cardiff, Chapter Art Centre, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff and the Swan Hotel, Abergavenny, Theatr Clwyd in Mold are just some of the venues. There’s a website dedicated to jazz in south Wales, called Echo Music and one for north Wales.
Swansea International Jazz Festival is an annual event that takes place in June in the Maritime Quarter. If one Jazz festival just isn't enough then don't fret we have other options! In April the Porthcawl Jazz and Blues festival takes place and in August both the Brecon Jazz Festival and Fishguard's Aberjazz festival.
Jazz at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD)
How Jazz came to Wales
Jazz first became popular in Wales due to visiting USA performers and recordings. Early jazz forms came to Wales in the late 19th century, including the visiting Fisk Jubilee Singers, from Nashville, USA, who performed in Swansea. Welsh people identified with the performers, having faces issues of being forbidden to speak Welsh.
There has been a variety of jazz styles through the decades, with ragtime music being popular at the start of the 20th century and blues bands playing in the 1920s. Rhythm clubs were established in Swansea, Cardiff and Newport in the 1930s. Visiting American GIs were also responsible for the music’s popularity during World War Two. The 1950s saw jazz clubs and societies playing a mixture of traditional, mainstream and modern jazz.
Women were heavily involved in the Swansea jazz scene during late World War One. Many of the shows were produced and directed by women and the cafes were a safe place for single and widowed women to meet.
Jen Wilson established the Women’s Jazz Archive in 1992 to highlight the socio-cultural heritage of African-American music in Wales. Jazz Heritage Wales & Women in Jazz are housed at Swansea Metropolitan Museum and provides a unique multi-media resource with many jazz artefacts.