Jazz Jams and Hangs


Phinehas Nyang’Oro at Paragon. Photo by Jazmarae Beebe.

By Edan Krolewicz

Jazz haunts, liquor, and dancing formed the foundation of our city’s musical history, and the following weekly jams keep this legacy alive. Jams attract both active performing musicians and beginners in the community, coming together to practice the essential ingredients of jazz: listening, improvisation, and finding gigs.

Do you have a favorite tune you love to sing or play? Do you want to learn to play songs out of the Real Book, or improvise with a new song or style you haven’t played before? Jams are a great way to make new friends, find gigs, start new projects, exchange favorite songs and albums, and learn about the burgeoning music scene around you.

Angry Beaver

The Beaver Sessions
Sundays, 9pm
8412 Greenwood Ave N

Established with the goal of hosting “a party every Sunday night where people can come and play or just hang out and not worry about feeling obligated to play,” this straight-ahead session is enjoyed by local, and sometimes touring, musicians, in addition to regulars who come just to listen to the music (complemented by poutine on the table and hockey on the screens). Local musician Max Holmberg leads the session with his trio, a group of promising young musicians he describes as “people getting together to speak a musical language.”


Vox at the Box
1st & 3rd Sundays, 7:30pm
Instrumental Jam
2nd & 4th Sundays, 7:30pm
Future Jazzheads
Wednesdays, 6 & 7:30pm
101 W North Bend Way

Boxley’s provides several jams, each of which acts as great opportunities for students in the area. Vox at the Box, one of the few specifically vocal jams in the area, provides a great place for new vocalists to develop and hone their skill and technique. It is hosted twice a month by Kelly Eisenhour (vocals), Danny Kolke (piano), Chris Symber (bass) and Greg Williamson (drums), the latter three of which also host the Instrumental Jam sessions. Future Jazzheads is another unique jam, giving middle and high school students the opportunity to spend time on stage working alongside professionals.

Café Racer

Racer Sessions
Sundays, 8pm
Improvisation is for Everyone!
3rd Sundays, 6:30pm
5828 Roosevelt Way NE

If you’re really looking to expand your musical taste and sonic vocabulary, you have to check out the Racer Sessions. Organized by Seattle record label Table & Chairs, this decidedly modern jam features a guest artist or group, followed by a jam focusing on free or collective improvisation that “frequently incorporates the aesthetic and techniques of avant-garde jazz and classical music.” Groups spontaneously form to the side of the stage, and each group’s set is recorded and documented on the Racer Sessions website.

The Racer Sessions also recently launched an improvisation fundamentals classed called “Improvisation is for Everyone!” From 6:30-7:30pm on the third Sunday of every month, experienced improvisers facilitate an inclusive, nurturing space for people of all ages, ability levels, and disciplines to collaborate and learn about collective improvisation.

Capitol Cider

EntreMundos Jam (21+)
Mondays, 9:15pm
818 E Pike St

One of the liveliest jams in Seattle, the EntreMundos Jam session at Capitol Cider is host to a worldly crowd of musicians. Described as “the most diverse and groovy series of jam sessions,” you can expect to hear “a groove-centered link between the worlds of jazz, Brazilian, Latin, blues, R&B, funk, and much more.” The jam kicks off with a set from Adriana Giordano (vocals), Eric Verlinde (keyboard), Dean Schmidt (bass), Jeff Busch (drums), Ernesto Pediangco and Tor Dietrichson (percussion). Giordano says, “The styles change throughout the evening, and we do a really good job keeping it balanced and interesting in terms of energy. While we have a six-piece house band with some of the most sought after musicians in Seattle, we get to play and learn from other musicians with different levels of proficiency.”

Couth Buzzard Books

Open Jazz Jam
2nd & 4th Sundays, 2pm
Music Improv Session
2nd Sunday, 7pm
8310 Greenwood Ave N

If you’re seeking an active yet gentle way to ease into the Seattle jazz scene, these may be the jams for you. Led by area musician and teacher Kenny Mandell, these jams has been described as “friendly and non-competitive.” Focusing on standards and blues, the Couth Buzzard jams provide a supportive environment with easily recognizable tunes, creating an ideal setting to grow more comfortable and confident in your playing.

Egan’s Ballard Jam House

Vocal Jam
Wednesdays, 9pm
1707 NW Market Street

One of the neighborhood’s coziest music venues, Egan’s Ballard Jam House hosts a monthly Vocal Jam, hosted by Cara Francis, with John Hansen (piano), Paul Gabrielson (bass), and Robert Rushing (drums). This jam is perfect for vocalists looking to hone their style and hear multiple interpretations of jazz standards.

Nectar Lounge

Mo’ Jam Monday (21+)
Mondays, 9pm (doors at 8pm)
412 N 36th St

“Mo’ Jam Mondays” at the Nectar Lounge are a weekly favorite amongst Seattle’s jazz/ hip-hop/ and R&B musicians, visual artists, comedians, and dancers. The rotating improvisational jams are an excellent place for experimentation, and a great way to find musicians for your current and future projects. Hosted by the Morganica Quartet (Morgan Gilkeson, drums; Dylan Hughes, bass; Zach Zarrow, keyboard; Ian Hughes, guitar), this jam features a different special guest each week.

Owl ‘n Thistle

Jam w/ Eric Verlinde (21+)
Tuesdays, 10pm
808 Post Ave

This longstanding jam session is straight-ahead jazz, hosted by Eric Verlinde on piano and Jose Martinez on drums. The jam was founded by a group called Bebop and Destruction – a name that’s no misnomer for the atmosphere the group conceived. Featuring stellar musicianship, this weekly event promises to act as a memorable learning experience for all musicians, young and old. Verlinde and Martinez keep the ball rolling, and the jam as open as possible.

Pianist Verlinde recommends that young players “spend time learning tunes. Go out to sessions and make a note of the songs that are being played …Ultimately, you want to learn all of the songs that you can, but first it’s a good idea to check out the songs that are being played in your local jam sessions.”


Jam w/ Billy Brandt
1st Tuesdays, 9:30pm
2125 Queen Anne Ave N

On quiet Tuesday nights in Upper Queen Anne, you can find this jazz jam, hosted by Billy Brandt. This more laid-back jam attracts talented instrumentalists and is a great venue to practice new material in a relaxed, inviting environment.

The Royal Room

The Salute Sessions
Mondays, 10pm
5000 Rainier Ave S

The Salute Sessions are a new themed jazz jam hosted by Ivan Arteaga, Carmen Rothwell, and Evan Woodle. Each week the group dives into the music of a particular person, place, or time in jazz history. It provides an opportunity for musicians to work with and study a particular group of songs each week, and emerge with a deeper musical understanding and appreciation of the innovators and standard bearers of the art form.


6 Steps to Attending Jam Sessions

Step 1: Go to as many jam sessions as you can.
Step 2: Listen.
Step 3: Introduce yourself to the musicians and share in the community.
Step 4: Repeat.
Step 5: Practice – at home – favorite tunes, the heads, rhythmic hits, improvisation, and musicianship.
Step 6: Show up, ready to socialize and perform well together.

Posted on

November 30, 2015