The good news is that Pasquale (Pat) Senatore is back in business--and this time under weatherproof conditions, unlike those he had to deal with at the Oceanside Club that bore his name.
To musicians, Senatore is best known as a bass player who toured the world with Stan Kenton, Les Brown and, for five years, the Tijuana Brass. But the Southland's public may remember him better as the man who, from 1978 until 1983, owned Pasquale's, overlooking the beach at Malibu.
For many visitors, Pasquale's had a mixture of music and ambiance second to none; but the club was doomed. Hardly a month went by without a rock slide or some other disaster on the Pacific Coast Highway. It got to the point where nobody knew whether the room was open, or closed because of inaccessibility.
After almost four years of searching for the right location, Pasquale has taken over as artistic director at Jo Anne Le Bouvier's Beverly Hills Saloon. The policy calls for his own trio or other local groups Mondays through Wednesdays, and name attractions Thursdays through Saturdays. Coming Thursday is clarinetist Eddie Daniels; July 23, musician/comedian Pete Barbutti will open.
"We can get some of the same clientele I built up at Pasquale's," says Senatore. "For instance, there are some affluent people who don't go to the Valley clubs to hear jazz. I hope to book some of the same people who worked for me in Malibu, like Carmen McRae, maybe Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Jon Hendricks.
"Kenny Rankin is set for a September date. I'm dickering for Michael Brecker, Diane Schuur, and some big bands like Basie and Louis Bellson; also, I hope, my old friend Wayne Shorter. We have the space, plus good sound, and a late-night restaurant menu."
Born in Newark, N.J., Senatore was a childhood friend of saxophonist Shorter. They were together in high school, where Senatore majored in art and music. "I wanted to play bass, but they said I was too small, so I was given a baritone horn. Later I switched to trombone, and finally got to play bass in my senior year."
After a long stretch on the road (interrupted for two years by studies at Juilliard), Senatore settled in Los Angeles in 1960. Waiting for musician's union clearance to play locally, he was night manager for a while at the old Music City record shop, but by the end of that year was on the road with Stan Kenton (his elder son, now a chef at l'Ermitage, is named Kenton).
Senatore learned many lessons from his experience at Pasquale's. "You have to be realistic about the cost and value of talent. I had to put a lot of my savings into that room, and there were times when we were in the black. We had some wonderful sessions with people like Joe Farrell, Michel Petrucciani and Manhattan Transfer. But I learned how important your location can be--and as great as that view was, I'd never want to go back to Pacific Coast Highway, or any other place where a rock slide can close you down. Now we're in a much safer situation.
"Jo Anne Bouvier, having had a lot of experience as an actress, knows the temperament of show-business people and is anxious to make everyone comfortable. She trusts my judgment and won't interfere with my choice of talent.
"I remember one night a jazz fan from Tokyo took a cab direct from the airport to Pasquale's, caught the show, then went to check in at his hotel. I want to capture that same kind of enthusiasm for the Beverly Hills Saloon, whether the customers come from Japan or just around the corner."