Taste and Sound: Enjoying Seattle's Vibrant Jazz Community

In terms of music, Seattle is best known today as the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix and grunge, aka the 'Seattle sound', the rock subgenre that exploded into popularity in the early 90s. Digging deeper into the rich musical history of the city, however, there's another genre that has already been present and booming in Seattle long before the emergence of grunge. Ask any Seattleite about what kind of music is ever vibrant in the metro and you're almost always going to get the same answer: jazz.

Jazz is very much alive in places like Seattle as exemplified by the numerous jazz bars which line the city, and these venues are awesome places to visit as they give you two slices of the city's culture – music and food. Today, let's look at some Seattle jazz bars which are frequented not only by customers, but by world class musicians as well.

The Royal Room

 photo credit: Daniel Sheehan

photo credit: Daniel Sheehan

The Royal Room is located on Rainier Ave. and it's hard to miss thanks to the big name board on its facade. Dim lights, a chill vibe and a cool crowd are the norm in this hangout spot with finely finished wooden interiors to boost acoustics.

 photo credit: Sarah Barrick

photo credit: Sarah Barrick

Although open to all sorts of musicians, several jazz artists have graced the stage of The Royal Room showing how much Seattleites enjoy this type of music. Just last February, Seattle's very own Eugenie Jones wowed audiences once again by performing the hits of Nina Simone, one of the all-time greats of jazz and blues. The Stranger described Jones's voice and singing style as one that can “put a smile to your face,” which is perfect especially for upbeat jazz tracks.

As for The Royal Room's menu, the place serves Southern-inspired food so its offerings include dishes such as Quinoa Salad Wraps and Chicken Enchiladas. It also has some signature dishes like The Royal Burger – Washington beef patty in Columbia City bread complete with veggies and a special dressing.

The Triple Door

 photo credit:  Jessica Spiegel

photo credit: Jessica Spiegel

The Triple Door is one of the city's premier performance venues and it's unique as it's situated on the site of the now-defunct vaudeville house, Embassy Theatre, in Union Street. Many famous musicians have performed here as well like the legendary jazz instrumentalist and singer Herb Alpert for instance which, according to the Seattle Times, held a three-night show earlier this year with his wife Lani Hall.

The Triple Door serves Pan-Asian entrees courtesy of the Wild Ginger so aside from local cuisine, expect dishes such as curry, noodles and stir-fried food. Happy hour runs from 4PM to 6PM everyday.

Dimitriou's Jazz Alley

 Photo credit

Photo credit

If there's one place where people flock to enjoy great jazz and great food, it’s Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley on the corner of Lenora St. and 6th Ave. For more than 40 years, King 5 News mentioned that the venue played host to all sorts of musical artists. It's one of the longest-run jazz clubs in the entire US.

But what also keeps guests coming back is the sumptuous culinary creations of its founder, John Dimitriou. Hailing from Greece, Dimitriou has a passion for both live music and his kitchen. The venue serves a wide variety of Northwestern dishes which are all organic in support of the local suppliers like farmers and fishermen. Given all the great reviews that the venue is getting for both food and its ambiance, it shows that Dimitriou has been doing things right for decades.

The Lasting Appeal of Jazz and Jazz Clubs

 Photo Credit:  USC Annenberg Media

Photo Credit: USC Annenberg Media

Jazz is often regarded as one of “America's greatest original art forms” which explains why it remains highly popular in the country even today. In fact in Seattle, there were more than 20 jazz clubs for some time on Jackson Street alone, which runs from the Central District to the now famous International District – a spot which we've also featured before in a post here on Rain or Shine Guides

Jazz clubs are favorite destinations for enjoying live music at its best and the distinct qualities of these venues allowed it to become as identifiable as the musical genre which they represent. Piano, trumpet and upright bass are among the instruments most frequently associated with jazz. The sound of these instruments are prominent even in media creations of jazz such as musicals like Chicago wherein the acclaimed song “All That Jazz” was used, as well as the thematic digital slot title The Jazz Club where various jazz arrangements were used by gaming platform Betfair Casino to evoke the sound and ambiance of its real world counterpart. During performances in venues such as The Royal Room, The Triple Door and Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, audiences are treated to a lovely ensemble of instrumental and vocal music, turning simple dinners into extraordinary nights that are worth remembering.

Do you know of other jazz bars in Seattle which are highly recommended destinations? Name them in our comments section below!

This piece was written in collaboration with Rebecca Osborne.