Pat Metheny photo courtesy of the artist. Metheny will perform at Jazz Alley on September 16–19.
BY GRACE KASTE
As Seattle’s jazz scene begins to come back to life, musicians of any age and level can find opportunities to get involved. Concerts, masterclasses, ensembles, jam sessions, and much more await anyone who wants to dive further into this dynamic genre. Whether you are looking for West Coast Swing Dance lessons or the perfect all-ages jazz club, there’s something for everyone!
Note: Please look up each listing’s specific COVID protocols at the websites provided below.
Experiencing live jazz is one of the best ways to fall in love with the music, and luckily, Seattle offers some of the very best. As jazz clubs and concert halls reopen, you’ll find everything from experimental to traditional jazz being performed at all-ages venues throughout the city.
Chapel Performance Space
4649 Sunnyside Ave N.
Designated as a historic Seattle Landmark in 1984, this unique venue is one of the city’s best kept secrets. The two-story space is the former fourth floor chapel in the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford, featuring columns and stained glass. Each month the non-profit, Nonsequitur, and a community of like-minded organizations and artists present several concerts of adventurous and experimental music as part of the Wayward Music Series. Everything from post-classical composition to the outer limits of jazz can be found at these all-ages concerts, where tickets are often by suggested donation of $5-15. Come enjoy beautiful architecture and incredible acoustics while exploring the world of experimental music.
Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley
2033 6th Ave
Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley reopened its classic and intimate club setting in June of this year, continuing to bring some of the greatest names in jazz to Seattle audiences. Local and national talent, including Grammy Award winners can be seen performing here at this adored jazz club. While most acts are jazz, a mix of funk, blues, and soul can also be found in their listings. The venue is all-ages, all of the time with prices ranging between $15-40, with both dinner and non-dinner tables available. Children under 12 often get in for free, and students can get half price admission at the 7:30pm sets on Wednesdays and 9:30pm sets on Thursdays. Just don’t forget to make a reservation at 206.441.9729 and bring your student ID to receive the discount!
JazzClubsNW at Boxley’s
228 W. North Bend Way Suite A
After a year of virtual performances, this North Bend jazz club has reopened to the public. No reservation is required to see performances by jazz stars from around the Pacific Northwest, and the cover charge ranges from $5 for local acts to $25 for national ones. You can hear a live show every Friday and Saturday, starting at 8pm.
The Royal Room
5000 Rainier Ave S.
Starting on September 15, The Royal Room will once again open its doors to Seattle jazz fans. The venue is a fun and informal place to get to know some of the city’s best musicians up close, and welcomes all ages until 10pm. Located in historic Columbia City, the space also includes a restaurant and bar. Though performances center around jazz, The Royal Room often mixes it up with anything from blues to classical. Ticket prices are usually around $15, and increase for purchases on the day of the show. Be sure to reserve a table through their website to get a good seat.
The Triple Door
216 Union St
A favorite among local concert goers, the Triple Door is a dinner theatre venue in Downtown Seattle whose architecture and setting make the experience even more memorable. Their programming features noteworthy local and touring artists performing jazz, funk, blues, and even the occassional stand up comedy. While the venue’s Musiquarium Stage and Lounge is strictly 21+, their mainstage is all-ages for shows starting at 8pm or earlier. The mainstage is returning to live music beginning with concerts on weekends, with tickets ranging from around $20-40.
Private suites around the mainstage are also available and are perfect for families with their customizable volume and lighting control. All theatre seats receive full food and drink service throughout the show, which you won’t want to miss since the Triple Door’s menu features award-winning dishes from their sister restaurant, Wild Ginger.
As jazz greats throughout history have shown us, the best way for a musician of any level to improve is to jump right in. Sessions are open to all skill levels and are sure to offer a supportive and welcoming environment. If you’re looking to develop your musicianship, try out a jam session!
Couth Buzzard Jazz Sessions
8310 Greenwood Ave N.
This Greenwood neighborhood favorite wears many hats as a bookstore, cafe, and music venue. Couth Buzzard hosts a variety of jam sessions on Sunday afternoons, open to all ages and levels, including Choro jam sessions, free improvisation sessions, and jazz jams. Saxophonist Kenny Mandell hosts the Free Improvisation Sessions and Jazz Jams, with a house band featuring Al Pignataro on guitar and keyboard, Dan O’Brien on bass, and Lance Lu on drums. Come enjoy live music, a cup of coffee, and a good book. To RSVP call 206.436.2960.
Owl ’n Thistle Jam Session
808 Post Ave
Located in a building that dates back to the 1800s, the Owl ’n Thistle Irish Pub hosts lively sessions every Tuesday night. Each week, a different house band of Seattle-area professionals plays a short set at 9pm and then the jam takes off from there. There’s no cover charge required to hear amazing music from some of your favorite local musicians, and even play with them yourself if you’re feeling up to it. All ages until around 10pm (after the house set). This session is one you can’t miss!
For jazz musicians of all experience levels, there is an opportunity for you to learn from the best. Seattle-area organizations offer lessons, masterclasses, and more, taught by local professionals in both virtual and in-person settings. Check out these offerings to get started.
Jazz Night School
5415 Rainier Ave S.
With an emphasis on welcoming all ages and levels, there is truly something for everyone at Jazz Night School. Musical development is fostered through group and individual instruction, all taught by some of the finest musicians and educators on Seattle’s jazz scene. A broad range of styles are represented in the music taught, from Trad jazz to Brazilian jazz. Their fall session will begin on September 18, with classes, lessons, and combos, all taught online and culminating in a virtual end of session performance. If you are looking for less of a commitment, the school also offers single session interactive workshops focusing on a specific subject. Participation in combos and classes costs between $335-375, with partial and full tuition waivers available.
3201 E Republican St
An organization devoted to making jazz accessible to any student in grades 4-12, Seattle JazzEd offers an extensive variety of online jazz education opportunities. Ensembles, private online music lessons, and free programs including masterclasses and daily guided practice videos are just a few of their offerings. Private lessons for any jazz instrument are taught by top music educators from around the PNW and are offered in four packs, with the option of doing a 30-minute trial lesson. Masterclasses, free with a suggested donation, allow musicians to dive into a specialized music topic in one-hour video classes. Their Online Guided Listening to Great Albums in jazz history is a free opportunity for anyone to develop as a jazz musician. Partial and full tuition waivers are available.
Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra
Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra’s program Jazz4Kids gives children and youth the rare opportunity to see live jazz up close in an intimate and interactive performance. Jazz4Kids concerts include instrument demonstrations by members of the Orchestra, Q&A, and instrument displays before and after the concert where kids can try out musical instruments. These kid-oriented events take place at both the Nordstrom Recital Hall in Downtown Seattle and Kirkland Performance Center. Tickets are free.
The Vera Project
305 Harrison St
As a non-profit space dedicated to serving community members of all ages, the Vera Project offers a variety of educational programs for aspiring artists of any kind, including an audio and stage oriented technical program. The course will be returning in-person and online this fall, taught by professionals from the Seattle community. During workshops, participants receive instruction on running live sound, recording audio, stage and show management, event planning, and concert lighting. Their talented teaching staff is happy to tailor a class to an individual’s needs, and you’ll get hands-on experience at shows put on at the Vera Project. Private classes cost $30 per attendee, with a minimum of six participants required. Scholarships for the workshops are also available by application.
For novices and experts alike, swing dancing is sure to be an exciting and memorable way to enjoy jazz music. Seattle’s ballroom dance scene has something for every genre and level, from beginner salsa lessons to tap dances. Enjoy incredible music and iconic Seattle venues at these events.
915 E. Pine St
This iconic Seattle dance hall checks every box with its private lessons, classes, and workshops in Lindy Hop and West Coast Swing, as well as salsa, tap, and more. There are offerings for all experience levels, with both one-off classes and ongoing series offered. See the full schedule, ticket prices, and register at their website. Although most dances at Century Ballroom are 21+ (for now), their classes are always all-ages!
Savoy Swing Club
Swinging since 1992, the Savoy Swing Club is a member-supported non-profit that continues to teach and dance various kinds of partner swing dancing. Events include Monday Swing sessions and Savoy Practice Space on Tuesday evenings. Those with a membership, which starts at $10 a month, receive free admission to weekly dances, along with free lessons on Monday nights. The Club’s dances are hosted at various dance halls around Capitol Hill, and include just about every possible form of partner dance, from the Balboa to the Foxtrot.
902 Market St
The swing dancing scene doesn’t end in Seattle, because Tacoma’s premier swing dance club, T-Town Swing, offers popular weekly social dances for both swing and Lindy Hop. Admission is just $10 or $7 with a valid student ID! Dancers of all levels are welcome! A free beginner’s lesson is offered a half hour before the social, with paid admission. You can register online or pay at the door, no partner required.