Elliott “Mack” Waldron


Elliot “Mack” Waldron photo by Lisa Hagen Glynn


The Seattle jazz community lost a dear friend and iconic supporter in the passing of Elliott “Mack” Waldron on January 24, 2024, of complications from lung cancer at age 82. The long-time proprietor of Tula’s Jazz Club in Belltown created a home for the local jazz scene in Seattle and provided a stage for its musicians to grow and develop an audience. With neighboring Jazz Alley focused on national touring bands, Waldron saw to it that being a local musician was a priority. For twenty-six years, Tula’s featured live local jazz six to seven nights a week, in a room designed for listening and appreciating the music first and foremost. Waldron was motivated by his love for the music and sense of responsibility to the Seattle jazz community. For many musicians and jazz fans alike, Tula’s served as the clubhouse of the local jazz scene. The club gained national attention from jazz notables such as Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Hal Galper and Orrin Evans, who became acquainted with the jazz night spot from the weekly jam sessions or by associations with Seattle musicians. 

Born on December 28, 1941, and raised in Longview, Texas, with seven siblings, Waldron joined the U.S. Navy and decided to make a career of it. A fine trombonist, he dedicated his talents to becoming a Navy bandleader, retiring in Seattle while being stationed at Sand Point Naval Station on Lake Washington. Having always dreamed of owning a jazz club, he sank a substantial portion of his pension into opening Tula’s on December 31, 1993. The club bore the name of his wife, Tula, a Seattle native. Tula’s Greek heritage was reflected in the cuisine offered by the club, alongside the finest jazz talent in Seattle featured in both small combos and big bands. 

Sporting an easygoing personality and a soft Texas accent, Waldron performed virtually every task required to set the club in motion. Aside from the act of managing the business, he tuned the piano daily, worked in the kitchen and behind the bar, and took care of the majority of the building maintenance required. He was known for his kindness and generosity and served those attributes up to his staff, the musicians, and patrons alike. Along the way, the club helped launch the careers of Seattle jazz musicians such as Greta Matassa, Thomas Marriott, Bill Anschell, Johnaye Kendrick, and many others. 

Waldron turned over management of the club to Jason Moore over the last eight years of the club’s twenty-six-year tenure. He pondered retirement but felt the club was too essential a part of the local jazz scene in Seattle to close. Tula’s closing coincided with the razing of the building and surrounding block in the interest of neighborhood gentrification. 

He is survived by his wife, Demetra “Tula” Waldron; son, Elliott Waldron, Jr.; and daughter, Mary Waldon.


Posted on

February 29, 2024