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Seattle Music Map

An Insider's Guide to Seattle's Music History

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Jazz - Jackson Street Era

In the not too distant past, nightclubs lined Seattle’s Jackson Street and surrounding area where dancing, bootleg liquor and hot jazz were spilling into the streets around the clock. Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, and Ernestine Anderson are just a few artists whose careers were launched on these blocks. Take a jazz scene walking tour. Several of these historic buildings are still standing, most are not. After your historical ramble, check out some of today’s local jazz sounds at clubs like Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley or Tula’s – or if you’re lucky enough to be in town when it’s happening, immerse yourself in the world-class, fringe-friendly, Earshot Jazz Festival.

The Black & Tan Club: 4041⁄2 12th Ave. S. Seattle’s most esteemed and longest-lived jazz nightclub operated from 1922–1966 under various names, and was the backdrop to greats like Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, and Charlie Parker.

The Black Elks Club: 6621⁄2 S Jackson, top floor. A 17 year-old Ray Charles had his first regular gig here in 1948 with Garcia McKee.

The Rocking Chair: 1301 E Yesler Way. A raucous place memorialized by Charles’ “Rocking Chair Blues.”

The 908 Club: 908 12th Ave. Considered Seattle’s first modern jazz temple, this was where hipsters and bohemians came to listen instead of dance.

YMCA, East Madison Branch: 1723 23rd Ave. Avenue for some of the best-known names in Northwest jazz and R&B: Dave Lewis, Floyd Standifer, Oscar Holden Sr., Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Ernestine Anderson.

The Washington Performance Hall: 153 14th Ave. The NAACP’s “Grand Benefit Ball” was held here in 1918 – Seattle’s first documented jazz performance.

The Washington Social Club: 2302 E Madison. Artists booked by bandleader and promoter Bumps Blackwell included an underage Ernestine Anderson.

The Ubangi, the Colony Club, the Jungle Temple, the Mardi Gras, the Savoy Ballroom, and many, many more were also part of making Seattle a music mecca for this era.