I was just discussing with a friend of mine, and I think I just posted about it here, how most cities in the US have only one really good jazz club, if any at all. New York is an exception, but then, well…that’s New York.
And now…Seattle is an exception, too. My friend Narong turned me onto a really good jazz place in the city of Bellevue called “Bake’s Place.” It’s called “Bake’s” because the owner, Craig Baker, thought it had a nice sound to it. I had the opportunity to share a scotch with Craig the other night, which was my third outing to this well-appointed jazz bar and restaurant in Bellevue.
It wasn’t really an interview or anything like that. Just candid talk about jazz, live music venues, the restaurant business, and trying to get something worth going to in Bellevue. If you haven’t been to the greater Seattle area, Seattle is the “big city” here, but across Lake Washington there is the growing city of Bellevue, with skyscrapers, shops and restaurants, and a LOT of Microsoft, Starbucks and Boeing money.
And that’s where I get back to Craig Baker. He ran a bed and breakfast for years on the Eastside, and when his passion for live music and the restaurant business overwhelmed the small venue in his basement, he moved into a much larger space at the corner of 108th and 2nd Ave in Bellevue.
I will admit it is a tad difficult to find, but there is a validated parking below the office building where it lives.
Inside, it reminds me of Jazz Alley in Seattle, which is the premier spot for regional, national, and international jazz in the Northwest. However, it’s a fraction of the cost, and the Eastsiders will find this a terrific spot to come hang on any night of the week. There is no cover Sunday-Thursday, and Friday and Saturday’s cover is only in the $15-$20 range. It’s mostly jazz, but there are R&B and funk bands as well.
Baker thinks it will survive as a restaurant first, and then as a live venue. I have to admit the food is not that impressive, but the bar is absolutely killer. The music so far has been local Seattle bands and small jazz acts, but they are really good, with some names I recognized.
It’s a perfect venue for a Pianocrash. Next time I see him, I’ll give him a demo. Hopefully I’ll see some of you out there.
Where to find it:
155 108th Ave NE, Suite 110
Bellevue, WA 98004