A few weeks ago, I was itching to get out and listen to some jazz. It was a Saturday night. There was plenty going on, including loads of Earshot performances on top of the usual club offerings. There were complications, however. It was my night to have my boys, ages 10 and 14. I was also a little low on dough. I couldn’t drag them out to a club. God no! On top of that, they were hungry, and it was still pretty early. After a little head scratching and rumination, I checked the trusty seattlejazzscene.com to see if there were any possible options for someone in my situation. The Third Place Commons jumped out at me.

The Third Place Commons is a large open area in the Lake Forest Park Towne Center. There are several long tables, a stage and multiple restaurant offerings around the perimeters. It’s the typical food court fare: Pizza by the slice. Cheap Chinese. Burritos. Perfect for the teen and tween palates. There’s also a Honey Bear Bakery with espresso drinks and humongous layer cakes. Adjacent to all of this is Third Place Books, a large and inviting bookstore. The whole scene is a little reminiscent the Market Stage area at Crossroads Mall in Bellevue. There were all kinds of people hanging out: Families with toddlers screaming through the room. Groups of Emo-esque teenagers. Clusters of elderly people, playing cards and laughing. It is definitely a something for everyone situation.

We got our food and found a comfortable spot in the middle of the room. The band playing that night was the Chuck Deardorf Group: Chuck with Bill Anschell, Hans Teuber and John Bishop. I kicked back in relief. It was going to be a good night. The band started playing fairly quickly after we sat down. Although the mix was a little lopsided (More sax, please!) and the room was clanky, the band sounded great. Given the team roster, how could they not?

My 14 year-old, a budding jazz musician himself, was happy to hang with the music. Predictably, my 10 year old got a little antsy. I let him go peruse the kids’ section of the bookstore and also check out the giant chess set right by the entrance. He was happy. His brother was happy. Mom was happy. We were able to hang for the first set. Overall, the mission was accomplished. The kids were fed. We didn’t spend too much cash. I got to hear some really great live jazz. Sure, driving from our place on Beacon Hill all the way up to Lake Forest Park was a bit of a hoof, but well worth the trouble.

The Third Place Commons has live music regularly on Friday and Saturday nights as well as a few other errant nights as well. (Jazz fans should check the schedule before heading out. They do a wide spectrum of programming and don’t always have jazz. If you show up with a hankering for modern jazz only to discover a hillbilly hoe down quintet, well, this could be tragic.) Aside from music, the Third Place Commons has all kinds of crazy stuff going on: A knitting club. A French conversation group. A regular Mah Jonng game. These are just a few. While this may seem like a goofy place to spend your Saturday night, for me it offered an opportunity to listen to live jazz as opposed to nothing at all. If you’re looking for a family-friendly jazz hang, Third Place Commons gets a big thumbs up. For more information take a peek at http://www.thirdplacecommons.org/

Seattle Jazz