Grenadier was born into an intensely musical family in San Francisco on February 6, 1966. He took up trumpet -- the same instrument played by his father, Albert, who taught him to read music and gave him his first lessons. A year later, he was given his first electric bass, which allowed him to play in a covers trio alongside his brothers Steve and Phil Grenadier. At 12, after witnessing a live performance by bassist Ray Brown, he began exploring the work of such fabled bassists as Charles Mingus, Paul Chambers, Wilbur Ware, and Oscar Pettiford. By age 16, he was working as a professional with various members of his hometown's jazz scene, and backing top-tier performers passing through San Francisco including Johnny Griffin, Bobby Hutcherson, Art Farmer, Frank Morgan, and Toots Thielemans. Most had been introduced to him by pianist Vuckovich, in whose group he also played.
Grenadier attended Stanford University and graduated with a degree in English literature in 1989. Afterward, he moved to Boston to work with Gary Burton's band and toured with him for nearly two years, then relocated to New York City, where he was able to gain experience on the bandstand and by touring with Joe Henderson and Stan Getz, as well as playing in Betty Carter's band. After joining Mehldau's trio in 1993 and touring and recording with Metheny, he began a decade-long tenure with Paul Motian, and subsequently played with Billy Higgins, Charles Lloyd, John Scofield, Joshua Redman, Brian Blade, David Sanchez, Chris Potter, and Danilo Perez, to name a few.
Grenadier's membership in the Fly trio with longtime friends Ballard and Turner has resulted in three critically acclaimed albums, starting with a self-titled effort in 2004, followed by 2009's Sky Country and 2016's Year of the Snake. He also tours and records with Martin. In early 2017, Grenadier joined Scofield and keyboardist John Medeski in Jack DeJohnette's quartet Hudson. They issued their self-titled debut in June for the occasion of DeJohnette's 75th birthday, and followed it with a tour.
In February 2019, ECM Records issued Grenadier's first album of bass solos -- a label tradition. Titled The Gleaners, it presents originals by the bassist alongside readings of pieces by George Gershwin, John Coltrane, and Motian, as well as a pair of works written especially for him by Muthspiel. Grenadier also included an instrumental interpretation of a song by Martin. ~ Al Campbell, Rovi
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