Larry Grenadier (born February 6, 1966 in San Francisco, California) is one of the preeminent double bassists of his generation.
His father, Albert, was a trumpet player, and his two brothers, Phil and Steve, would eventually play trumpet and guitar respectively. Grenadier too began on trumpet when he was 10 years old. His father taught him to read music and gave him his first lessons. A year afterward, when Larry Grenadier was eleven, he was given an electric bass guitar so that he and his brothers could play together as a band. He took a quick liking to the instrument, playing and practicing constantly. The three brothers performed current rock songs of the day at parties by learning the parts off of records. Larry’s older brother Phil began listening to jazz around this time, and slowly his listening habits filtered down to the younger brothers. Grenadier soon got hooked on jazz as well and began listening intently to jazz bassists like John Patitucci, Ray Brown, Charles Mingus, Brian Bromberg, Richard Davis, Paul Chambers, Wilbur Ware and Oscar Pettiford.
Hearing legendary upright bassists inspired Grenadier to borrow an upright bass and try to emulate what he was hearing on records. By the time he was 12, Grenadier began formal study of the acoustic bass, studying with local jazz bass players Chris Poehlor, Paul Breslin, and Frank Tusa and later classical bassists Michael Burr and Steven Tromontozzi. At 16, Grenadier had a busy career playing in the San Francisco area with both local musicians and those traveling through town in need of a bass player. Some of these musicians included Harvey Wainapel, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Henderson, Larry Vuckovitch, Eddie Henderson, Bruce Forman, Eddie Marshall, Vince Lateano, George Cables and Donald Bailey. Other visiting musicians Grenadier played with at this time were Toots Thielmans, Johnny Griffin, Charles McPherson, Anita O’Day, and Frank Morgan. Grenadier went on to study at Stanford University and graduated in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. At Stanford, Grenadier got to know Stan Getz, who was the Artist in residence there at the time. He played with Getz often, as well as touring with Getz’s band.
After college graduation, Grenadier moved to Boston to play with Gary Burton. Grenadier toured all over the world with Burton and his band, which at that time included Wolfgang Muthspiel, and Marty Richards. In 1991, Grenadier moved to New York and began musical associations with a wide variety of musicians. Some of these included musicians Larry had met during his time in Boston and included talents such as Joshua Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jorge Rossy, Mark Turner, and Chris Cheek. Others he met for the first time in New York such as Kevin Hays, Bill Stewart, Renee Rosnes, Ralph Moore, Billy Drummond, Danilo Perez, David Sánchez, Tom Harrell and Billy Hart. Grenadier continued his association with Joe Henderson touring with his band which at times included Al Foster, Renee Rosnes and Larry Willis. Grenadier also spent a few months during his earlier years in New York playing in Betty Carter’s band.
In the early 1990s, Grenadier first met and played with pianist Brad Mehldau. Mehldau’s trio (including Grenadier and Jorge Rossy) went on to become one of the major groups of the time. They toured constantly throughout the 1990s and recorded many albums together.
Also during this time Grenadier played in John Scofield’s band and with Guitarist Pat Metheny, with whom he toured as a trio along with drummer Bill Stewart. Grenadier credits his experiences touring with Metheny’s trio as a significant learning experience. Other musicians Grenadier played with included Charles Lloyd, Billy Higgins, Michael Brecker, and Paul Motian.
Currently, Grenadier focuses much of his touring time playing with Brad Mehldau’s trio, which, since 2004, has included drummer Jeff Ballard. He is also a part of the collaborative trio FLY which includes drummer Ballard and tenor saxophonist Mark Turner. They have recorded two critically acclaimed albums, the latest one being on the ECM label. Grenadier also tours and records with his wife, singer-songwriter Rebecca Martin.
Grenadier lives with Rebecca and their son Charlie James in the Hudson Valley north of New York City.