You've heard of after-hours clubs? Well, Grand Avenue Bar is a "before-hours" club. Live jazz entertainment ends at 9 p.m., about the time musicians at other places are just tuning up.
That's not the only break from tradition. Music is offered only Monday through Friday nights--no weekends--and instead of drawing the more usual crowd of musicians and students, Grand Avenue Bar is filled with downtown business people stopping in to relax before facing the freeways.
"This place used to be just dead in the evening," bar manager Jeff Bevan said as he smiled at the sizable room filled with people. The addition of entertainment beginning at 5 p.m. and complimentary hors d'oeuvre served from 5 to 7:30 p.m. have certainly made that a thing of the past. Even during breaks in the music the room is flooded with the sound of people having a good time.
Hors d'oeuvre are served buffet-style in a room adjacent to the bar. Offerings are international in flavor--warm Chinese egg rolls and mini steamed baos, fruit and cheese, barbecued chicken wings, chips and guacamole and make-your-own tacos are spread out and readily accessible. The full-service bar offers well drinks from $3 and varietal wines by the glass from $4.50 to $7.50.
Each weeknight a different style of jazz is featured. Blues on Monday brings in musicians such as Roy (Guitar) Gaines, the John Bolivar Group or Papa John Creach. Tuesday is KKGO night, when the radio station broadcasts live from the bar and showcases a variety of popular musicians.
Wednesday is Latin night, so you might hear John Pisano & Velas, Poncho Sanchez or Art Rodriguez & Salsa Express. Saxophone player Plas Johnson is on hand Thursday nights this month, and groups such as the Rob Mullins Trio, Dee Dee McNeil with the Dwight Dickerson Trio and the Mike Melvoin Trio wind up the week on Fridays.
Beginning this week, comedians from The Improv started entertaining during breaks between the four jazz sets on Friday nights.
"We want to keep the momentum up," Bevan said. John Mendoza will be there next week and Darryl Sivad the following.
Dark colors and pin spot lighting dominate the Grand Avenue Bar's decor. Japanese brown tiles, deep-brown polished marble counters and tables and Mies Van Der Rohe chairs are all in keeping with the contemporary art on the walls.
"We're also an art gallery," Bevan said. Works currently on display and for sale are by Buck Clark, an artist/musician who plays periodically in the room.
The bar's jazz info-line, (213) 612-1595, gives a schedule of musicians appearing each week. There sometimes is a cover charge for special events.
Grand Avenue Bar, 506 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 624-1011.