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Seattle street could soon bear name of longtime jazz educator, musician

Clarence Acox, Co-Artistic Director
Courtesy of Jim Levitt
Clarence Acox with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra

A block in Seattle’s Rainier Valley neighborhood could soon be named in honor of a local legendary jazz educator and musician.

A Seattle City Council committee voted unanimously to approvea resolution Wednesday morning to designate South Hill Street between 21st and 22nd Avenues South as “Clarence Acox Jr. Way.” That location will soon be the new home of the nonprofit Seattle JazzED. Acox co-founded the organization 11 years ago, along with Laurie de Koch, who is the nonprofit’s executive director.

“We thought it would be really cool to get the street designated as Clarence Acox Jr. Way as a way to honor Clarence and the incredible contribution he has made to the youth of our city for the last 50 years and the work he has done for JazzED specifically and his commitment to the kids in our community,” de Koch said.

Acox led the Garfield High School jazz bands for 40 years, winning multiple national and regional championships and performing internationally. He retired in 2019.

An accomplished drummer, Acox co-founded the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra in 1995.

The resolution now heads to the full city council for a final vote on Monday. De Koch says if it passes, JazzED hopes to unveil the new street sign at a block party at the end of August.

Rebekah Way is an on-call news host at KNKX. She began her career in public radio as a news intern at KNKX, where she's also worked as an interim producer and reporter. Rebekah holds a life-long passion for music and also works as a professional musician and educator in the Seattle area.