E. Russell Smith was a gangster and club entrepreneur who carried the club scene in Seattle, Washington during the 1920s. Nicknamed "Noodles," Smith was always known to keep just enough cash on hand for a bowl of noodles after a long night of gambling. Smith made his way to the west coast with $17,000 around 1909, money he said he had acquired in a three-day gambling spree.
With his money from illegal ventures, Smith busied himself in the nightclub scene, dominating jazz sets for over 20 years. Partnering with Burr "Blackie" Williams, Smith opened famous places like the Dumas Club and the Alhambra, also known as the Black and Tan club because it catered to both blacks and whites. The clubs were located on Jackson Street, the heart of Seattle's black jazz scene.
The Black and Tan club would become the longest-survived jazz club in Seattle. It was the inspiration for Duke Ellington's film, "Black and Tan Fantasy," in 1929. However, the club was the frequent target for racist police raids like the one in 1933. After the raid, the headlines favored Smith, calling the police "malicious" and blasting "unprovoked beatings" of black bystanders. The police were furious, especially since several cops were beat down in the dark during the raid and forced to retreat. In retaliation, they returned the next day and beat an innocent black man outside the club.