Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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Noce couples first-class jazz with classic-style cocktails


It’s Tuesday night at Des Moines’ hopping jazz joint, Noce.

Max Wellman is the general manager and entertainment director at Noce.

Max Wellman is the general manager and entertainment director at Noce.

The three-piece band on stage mixes a cello’s deep bass with the sound of a brass horn and a piano.The dimly-lit ambiance pulses with energy. The music’s volume is low enough for conversation, but loud enough you can still feel your soul. Groups of twos, threes and fours occupy tables, some in deep conversation, others intent on the music.

The downtown nightclub opened this past New Year’s Eve with great fanfare, and it’s the only place of its kind in Des Moines.

Noce couples first-class jazz with classic-style cocktails, and the concoction is finished with a unique atmosphere that has people buzzing. Or maybe they’re humming? Whichever, their toes are tapping.

“Jazz clubs exist in that gray area between concert hall and rowdy bar,” said Max Wellman, the bar’s general manager, entertainment director and frequent jazz musician.

Wellman went on to explain that most people come to Noce to enjoy the jazz, but it’s quite probable they’ll have a great conversation break out.

There are a lot of bars with music, but Wellman said this is a music venue first.

The main room is open Tuesday through Saturday and hosts local jazz groups as well as music groups touring around the country. The bar has exceeded expectations thus far, Wellman said, and Noce is gaining notoriety both locally and across the country from musicians from Chicago and New York alike.

“There are still people who walk in,” he said. “And especially after dark, this room is just stunningly beautiful. People’s jaws just drop.”

A wider variety of music is coming to Des Moines’ best jazz joint, according to Wellman. Noce will now have blues every Thursday night.

Wellman said it’s a fit even though jazz and blues are two totally different genres.

“Blues is a more simplistic genre of music. It’s four-chord, down-home music. Jazz is under a more expansive umbrella. It could be big band, a four-piece or even seven- or eight-piece.”

Noce even provides an experience for people who aren’t into jazz.

“If you love beautiful spaces or good classic cocktails. You can get something out of this place, but it definitely does revolve around the music,” said Wellman.

Wellman remembers a time when two parties booked tickets for the same show. The first party was for a 21st birthday, and the second was for a woman’s 100th birthday.

“We set them up all along one long table in back,” he recalled. “Throughout the whole night, they had the best time ever. You had people spanning in ages from 21 to 100 in the room that night, and they were partying together. The 100-year-old lady was just about as tipsy as the 21-year-old.” CV


1326 Walnut St., 515-505-5815

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight. Doors open at 5 p.m., and music usually begins around 7 p.m.

Tickets are generally $10 to $20, and VIP tickets are available for $50.



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