Live Jazz: The Larry Koonse Quartet at Vibrato Grill, Jazz…etc.

By Don Heckman

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. A night at Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill, Jazz…etc. is a great way to hear jazz.

So here it is – again. Last Saturday night we were in Vibrato’s comfortable room at the top of Beverly Glenn, seated at one of the club’s best tables, enjoying a tasty meal from the excellent kitchen. And captivated by a long swinging set from the Larry Koonse Quartet.

Larry Koonse Quartet

Guitarist Koonse is one of the Southland’s finest jazz artists — a leader in his own right, as well as a favored first call rhythm section player.On this night, he was in the leader’s spotlight fronting a stellar ensemble that included  Tom Ranier (pianist),  Pat Senatore (bassist and music director at Vibrato)  and Christian Euman (drummer).

Taking the lead on every tune, Koonse displayed the full range of his improvisational skills. The groove in place, he opened the door for the other players’ soloing. And each made the most of the opportunity, revealing their identities as prime jazz artists on their own.

Ranier, who is also a fine clarinetist, stayed at the piano bench, balancing his colorful harmonic textures with crisp, driving rhythms. Senatore’s bass lines, as always, were both propulsive and melodic — a rare quality in most bassists. Drummer Euman played with the enthusiasm of the young, gifted talent that he is.

Together, Koonse and his players each made significant contributions to an evening simmering with musical pleasures as the quartet romped through a program of tunes reaching from classic songs such as “Autumn Leaves,” “What’s New,” bebop specials and Miles Davis’ set-break riff.

Adding to all that, the swinging tone for this fine jazz evening also included a stunning opening set by the impressive duo of pianist Lou Forestieri and bassist Richard Simon.

So there it was – another memorable jazz evening at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.

And this week’s schedule (including Valentine’s Day) will continue to overflow with music equally worth checking out. So here’s the Vibrato list for the week, with something for most musical tastes:


Wed.(10) Brenna Whitaker
Thurs.(11) Quattrosound
Fri.(12) Bob Reynolds Quartet
Sat.(13) Mark Copeland with Pat Senatore’s Big band
(Sun.(14) Valentine’s Day Special: Carol Robbins and Billy Valentine

Check them out for a great evening.


Photos by Faith Frenz.


One thought on “Live Jazz: The Larry Koonse Quartet at Vibrato Grill, Jazz…etc.

  1. I always liked this place too. Always found the secret was getting there for the second set and sticking around for the third. Eating there was out of the question, of course, but the drinks are reasonable. I had no idea Pat has a big band. Anyway, enjoyed your writing, as usual.


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