Melody Jones


Born in Chicago, Jones lived in Harlem in the ’20s where she received hands-on instruction at rent parties from none other than Fats Waller and also played organ for movies at the Alhambra Theatre. After playing USO shows in the Far East during WWII, Jones moved to Seattle, where her husband’s uncle, Gus West, operated the Black Elks club and introduced her to Al Pierre, who got Melody a gig playing organ afternoons at the Showbox Theatre. Jones also played occasionally with Pierre’s men at the New Chinatown and subbed for Elmer Gill at the Black and Tan. While there, she encouraged Garcia McKee, Ray Charles’ guitar player, to bring Ray Charles to Seattle, and convinced West to give Charles his first Seattle job at the Black Elks, in 1948. Jones left Seattle for a decade, returning for good in 1956. In the ’80s, she kept the Jackson Street legacy alive with bassist Buddy Catlett at a longterm gig at Loforno’s, in Interbay, and played there until it closed, in 1993.

Jackson Street After Hours (print).