Marielle Jardiel

The Iconic Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley

Jazz is a way of expression; the desire to feel all-encompassing rhythms and varying degrees of improvisation that is met with soul and sophistication.

The roots of jazz started in the 19th and 20th centuries with blues and ragtime, and New Orleans played a key part in the development of this popular genre.

I grew up listening to jazz as a child. My parents loved the stylings of Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole, as well as smooth jazz artists like David Benoit, Sade, and The Rippingtons. This intrigued me to audition for my middle school jazz band as one of the pianists. When I received the happy news and played as part of the ensemble, that memory and experience became an intricate part of my life.

I’ve always wanted to go to a jazz club in Seattle. When my partner Gordon and I first stumbled upon Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, it was on New Year’s Eve 2022. From that moment on, we knew that one of our New Year’s intentions was to see a performance at Jazz Alley—never knowing that it would be more than once!

John Dimitriou founded Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley and it proudly opened its doors to the University District in 1980. It became the West Coast’s premier jazz club, bringing top named artists to Seattle like Earl Klugh and Harry Connick Jr. Six years later, Jazz Alley relocated to 6th and Lenora in Belltown where they opened a larger and more accessible club. To this day, it shows the authenticity of its artists and is a beloved place for all to be a part of—a place where exciting personalities and performers intertwine.

Each time we have gone, the lines have extended all the way around the block! The ladies and gentlemen are always all dressed up for a night out on the town, their faces lit up with smiles as they anticipate seeing the artists they adore. Dimitriou’s is also an all-ages venue*, so it’s a great opportunity to introduce younger generations to this style of music!

As you make your way inside the establishment, you can’t help but feel the intimate setting, dim lights, and the jazz background music that makes you want to dance! The balcony and main floor make up the best seats as the sound travels and resonates well while the performance is live in action. There are generally two shows in the same evening, one at dinnertime and one after dinner—and performances typically last between 70-90 minutes. Most people do not mind the late night eats! The menu showcases delicious Northwest cuisine and features ingredients from local farmers, fishermen, and food producers.

The day before New Year’s Eve 2023, Gordon and I finally got to see the famous Kenny G, who is originally from Seattle! He welcomed us with his superb improvisation and shared some of his life stories. One of them was about his pianist, Robert, whom he has known for 35 years. Being together and performing for that long really shows the true friendship between these musicians, who, at the beginning of their relationship, never knew that they would get to be on stage together one day in front of so many people.

Kenny G has practiced and performed his soprano sax for nearly 50 years and has advocated for music in schools. He performed his notable hit, “Songbird,” and my favorite Stan Getz hit, “Desafinado.” His sold-out shows have been a proven favorite among the Seattle community and his remarkable improvisation leaves people in awe.

The recent performance I saw in January was Chris Botti. My mom is a fan and he is famous for his trumpet playing skills! He has an amazing band and brought guest stars Caroline Campbell (famous violinist), John Splithoff (guitar and vocalist), and Alicia Olatuja (vocalist with some mad beatboxing skills!).

Caroline performed a mash up of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Toxic” by Britney Spears, and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” just to name a few. The audience applauded and clapped along to her performance, as it was such a treat. It was followed by John Splithoff’s “Paris” with Chris Botti, along with one of his songs, “Raye,” in memory of his friend that had passed. The lyrics themselves showed how he truly felt towards her, and yet the song’s melody had a feeling of how bright she was to his world and everyone she knew.

Jazz Alley brings such delight to Seattle! It’s where you feel at home with each extraordinary artist and have an experience like no other, feeling not only the music but the history itself. People crave the authenticity and the wholesome styling of jazz and honestly, it can be hard to find live music like this these days. As John Dimitriou once said, “We’re happy we’re here and we’re going to be here for a long time to come!” **

*Dimitriou’s welcomes all ages except for seating in the bar area. Children under 12 are admitted for free to most shows. However, some shows may be too loud for infants and toddlers or may contain content and subject matter that isn’t always appropriate for children. Contact Dimitriou’s for more information.

**Source: Seattle Refined, 2017;

About the Author

Marielle Jardiel

Marielle Jardiel is a Senior Conventions Coordinator with the Sales team at Visit Seattle. A Seattle enthusiast and native, Marielle loves discovering new places around the city and the Pacific Northwest. You’ll frequently find her trying a new restaurant in the area as she is a total FOODIE at heart!

More Posts By Marielle Jardiel


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