As one of the most admired and accomplished bassists working in jazz today, Larry Grenadier has been praised as “a deeply intuitive” musician by the New York Times and as an instrumentalist with a “fluid sense of melody” by Bass Player Magazine. Grenadier has created an expansive body of work in collaboration with many of the genre’s most inventive, influential musicians—from early days playing with sax icons Joe Henderson and Stan Getz to what has been decades performing alongside pianist Brad Mehldau. He’s had extended experiences working with the likes of Paul Motian and Pat Metheny and co-leads both the cooperative trio Fly (with Mark Turner and Jeff Ballard) and the quartet Hudson (with John Scofield, John Medeski and Jack DeJohnette). Over a performing and recording career that now spans three decades, it has been not only Grenadier’s instrumental virtuosity and instantly recognizable tone that have made him such an in-demand collaborator but also his uncommon artistic sensitivity, imagination, and curiosity.
In February 2019, ECM Records released Grenadier’s first solo bass album. Titled The Gleaners, it presents a brace of originals by the bassist alongside pieces by George Gershwin, John Coltrane, and Paul Motian, as well as a pair of pieces written especially for Grenadier by guitarist and fellow ECM artist Wolfgang Muthspiel. Grenadier also includes an instrumental interpretation of a song by his wife, and frequent collaborator, the singer-songwriter Rebecca Martin. “The process for making this record began with a look inward, an excavation into the core elements of who I am as a bass player. It was a search for a center of sound and timbre, for the threads of harmony and rhythm that formulate the crux of a musical identity,” says Grenadier.
Of his performance style, Grenadier has observed: “I’m hyper-aware of the balance between a studied approach to music and a more primal, instinctual understanding of the way music works. Having access to technique is useful in being able to communicate and express yourself musically. But music is about intuition and emotion. Compassion, strength, flexibility, and stamina are all important qualities in playing music. But the most important thing is the ability to listen.” Despite his veteran status, “playing music is still a learning experience for me. I’m always working on the technical aspects of my playing, but at the same time, I know that what happens on stage between musicians isn’t about that. The level of telepathy and intuition that exists in music, especially in jazz, is a constant reminder of what we’re capable of, both inside and outside of music.”