Michael Glynn and Marc Seales photo by Lisa Hagen Glynn
BY M.V. SMITH
For anyone looking to learn about jazz, there’s no substitute to diving right in. From all-ages concerts and jam sessions to music and dance lessons, Seattle offers young performers many opportunities to experience one of America’s great art forms up close.
The Royal Room
5000 Rainier Ave S
Inspired by his years as a regular at hybrid spaces like New York’s legendary Tin Palace, The Royal Room founder Wayne Horvitz designed his Columbia City club to be both a workshop for performing musicians and a neighborhood hangout. The Royal Room is open to listeners of all ages until 10pm and also hosts open, all-ages jam sessions Monday nights at 9pm, led by trumpeter Thomas Marriott.
Chapel Performance Space
4649 Sunnyside Ave
Located on the fourth floor of the Good Shepherd Center, Wallingford’s Chapel Performance Space is one of the most beautiful venues in Seattle. Graced with stained glass windows, tall columns, and wooden floors, the chapel houses concerts produced by local non-profit Nonsequitur, which shines a light on the outer fringes, focusing on free improvisation, sound art, and contemporary classical performances. Donations of $5-15 are suggested at the door.
Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley
2033 6th Ave
Named one of the world’s top 100 jazz clubs by DownBeat magazine, Jazz Alley is the Seattle equivalent to classic clubs like New York’s Village Vanguard, presenting national touring acts in an intimate setting where the audience is dressed to impress. Students receive half-price admission to the 7:30pm Wednesday set and the 9:30pm Thursday set. Reservations and current student ID required.
The Triple Door
216 Union St
Located in downtown Seattle’s historic Mann Building, the space housing The Triple Door dinner theater and its sister restaurant Wild Ginger was originally home to the Embassy Theatre, a vaudeville house turned movie palace. For the past two decades, The Triple Door has featured an eclectic slate of performances ranging from jazz to stand-up comedy. While the Musiquarium Lounge is strictly 21+, the main stage is an all-ages space for shows starting at 8pm or earlier.
Fellowship Wednesdays at Vermillion
1508 11th Ave
The brainchild of trumpeter Thomas Marriott, the Seattle Jazz Fellowship turns Capitol Hill’s Vermillion art gallery into an incubator for local talent. Six Wednesdays per season, two acts from different corners of Seattle’s jazz community perform to an audience of their peers, preceded by a free-of-charge listening session hosted by legendary trombonist Julian Priester. Priester, whose resume ranges from a stint with Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters to sessions with doom metal band Sunn O))), leads the audience through albums featuring his performances. Listening sessions at 5:30pm, music at 7:30pm.
Jazz Night School
5415 Rainier Ave S
Hillman City’s Jazz Night School provides instruction to students of all ages and abilities, featuring online and in-person classes in all aspects of jazz theory and performance. Under the supervision of top local players, students share combos with classmates of similar skill levels, offered in styles ranging from hard bop to the tangos of Astor Piazzolla and Django-style hot jazz. Jazz Night School also offers private instruction in individual instruments and single-session workshops focusing on specific subjects. Costs range from $395-495, with tuition assistance available.
3201 E Republican St
Geared to students from grades 4-12, Seattle JazzED offers private Zoom lessons in a variety of instruments. In addition to innovative initiatives, like the girls-only Girls Ellington big band and the JazzED Messengers, students gain real-world experience playing paid gigs at community events. JazzED also offers free guided practice videos for a variety of instruments, as well as listening guides to classic jazz albums hosted by Seattle scene luminaries. Sliding scale tuition and payment plans are available.
Couth Buzzard Jazz Sessions
8310 Greenwood Ave N
A classic neighborhood “third place,” the Greenwood café and bookstore Couth Buzzard hosts game nights, Girl Scout meetings, a conversation club for novice French speakers, and more. Saxophonist Kenny Mandell leads open jazz jam sessions at 2pm on the second and fourth Sundays of the month.
Egan’s Ballard Jam House
1707 NW Market St
A jazz club and restaurant by night, Egan’s offers its dining room during the day as a space for rehearsals and music workshops. The Ballard space is also home to the rare jam session tailored to the needs of vocalists, providing them the opportunity to hone their skills fronting the crack house band. First Thursdays at 7pm, $12 cover.
Racer Sessions at Cafe Racer
1510 11th Ave
Capitol Hill’s Racer Sessions offer musicians the opportunity to play with local and national masters of free improvisation and avant-garde jazz. Curated by local arts organization Table and Chairs, the series invites featured musicians to give performances and lectures demonstrating their creative process, after which all are invited to participate in jam sessions based on that artist’s concepts. Sundays at 7pm, check the website for scheduled artists.
915 E Pine St
Located in the former home of the Oddfellows fraternal order, Capitol Hill’s Century Ballroom is one of Seattle’s premiere dance halls. While most dances are 21+, the Century also hosts all-ages private lessons, classes, and workshops in styles ranging from West Coast Swing to salsa. Private lessons are $85 for individuals, $125 for couples, and group classes at $80 for a four-week series.
Swing Dance SCT
211 N 36th Street
Based out of Fremont’s Salsa Con Todo club, Swing Dance SCT offers classes and private lessons in the Lindy Hop, the original form of swing dancing. Curious dancers may attend beginner drop-in lessons prior to the weekly Saturday Swing social, while motivated students have the opportunity to graduate from novice-level classes to more advanced dance teams. Private lessons are $95 for up to two people, classes $125 per person, dance team membership $160 per month with a three-month commitment.
Savoy Swing Club
628 11th Ave E
Based in Capitol Hill’s Lowdown Ballroom, the Savoy Swing Club has spread the joy of jazz dancing for nearly thirty years. Savoy hosts Friday night socials preceded by dance lessons, while Tuesdays are reserved for dancers looking to practice their moves surrounded by other enthusiasts. Savoy members receive free admission to all events. Memberships $10-25, Friday dances $8-15 sliding scale, Tuesday practice $5 drop-in.