Feb 15, 2019
If you make a list of the top bass players in the business today, Larry Grenadier needs to be at, or near, the never top. A consummate sideman, he has been an important member of a who’s who of bands over his more than three decade career. From early days as a prodigy playing with sax icons Joe Henderson and Stan Getz to what has been decades performing alongside pianist Brad Mehldau; from extended experiences working with the likes of Paul Motian, Charles Lloyd and Pat Metheny to co-leading the cooperative trio Fly (with Mark Turner and Jeff Ballard) and quartet Hudson (with John Scofield, John Medeski and Jack DeJohnette) there seems to be no jazz configuration he not been an integral part of.
This week another chapter in Larry’s recording career is opened, as ECM Records releases Grenadier’s first album of solo bass, The Gleaners. Both plucking and bowing, he digs deep into both his own compositions and pieces by George Gershwin, John Coltrane, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Paul Motian, and his wife, and frequent collaborator, the singer-songwriter Rebecca Martin. The results are quite moving, and not just to a bass geek like me. Grenadier lets the melodies of the pieces come front and center, while he works his harmonic and rhythmic magic to frame the tunes in unique ways. Whether it’s the pulse of Motion’s “The Owl of Cranston” or more familiar tempo of “My Man’s Gone Now” from Porgy & Bess, Larry moves his pieces through time, adding his unique flourishes from his double bass playing.
Podcast 662 is the first of two podcasts with Larry Grenadier. This first part allows us to talk in depth about The Gleaners, and how he approached and executed a solo project after so many sessions in the rhythm section. Part Two, which appears later this weekend, will feature conversations about some of his many recording sessions, from ECM sessions with Fly, Charles Lloyd and Chris Potter, to his long-time collaborations with Brad Mehldau and Pat Metheny.
Musical selections for Part One include “Oceanic”, “Gone Like the Season Does”, “Pettiford”, and “Compassion/The Owl of Cranston.”