Dennis “D.Anthony” Robertson has moved back and forth between the business and music worlds for years now.
An aspiring drummer, he first began promoting acts at B.B. King's at Universal Studios, working his way into management and eventually ownership of the club. When that venture ended a few years ago, Robertson began planning what he hoped would become Los Angeles' premier venue for jazz. H.O.M.E. (House Of Music & Entertainment) opened in November, and since then Robertson has been quickly learning the ins and outs of running a full-time jazz supper club on a nightly basis.
Home is located in the former Camden House restaurant on North Camden Drive, a block west of Rodeo Drive in the heart of Beverly Hills. Robertson spent a considerable sum remodeling the restaurant with an upscale clientèle in mind: Padded seating, white linen and crystal. It boasts over 250 seats with a small bar area towards the back, putting it on a par with Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood, and around 100 seats larger than Herb and Eden Alpert's Vibrato in Bel Air, the two long-time L.A. jazz venues Robertson sees himself in closest competition with.
Robertson describes his approach as “combination of an intimate concert setting and true fine dining,” which he believes L.A. lacks. They've recruited former Perch and Geoffrey's of Malibu Executive Chef Shawn Davis to design a menu with entrees ranging from sea bass and caviar-chive salmon to rack of lamb.
They've also taken on experienced, full-time, sound engineers, a rarity at area jazz venues. The club recently acquired a Yamaha Concert series piano, which is more than seven feet long and rivals any found around here, short of the twin Steinways at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
Robertson admits that his original dream to become the West Coast version of New York's famous Blue Note club is being tempered with what he's learning about Beverly Hills and jazz audiences. Thus, they're now offering a weekday jazz lunch (with solo piano), in addition to open-air patio service. Robertson is also planning a Sunday afternoon “Jazz Mystery Theater” with music and audience participation.
Robertson hopes in a few months he'll be able to attract big-name traveling acts, and is working on linking with other West Coast venues to create a viable touring circuit. The club has begun to find attention — members of the Clippers and their families stopped by just before the New Year to celebrate the team's 17-game winning streak, and singer Natalie Cole was there recently. The fact H.O.M.E. is the first major jazz venue in L.A. with African-American ownership isn't going unnoticed in area music circles.
Pete Escovedo's Orchestra opened the club back in November, and since then area jazz notables including John Beasley, Bill Cunliffe, Danny Janklow, Louie Cruz Beltran, Clayton Cameron and John Pisano have already hit its stage. Robertson says veteran bassist John B. Williams is planning a live recording at the club in March, the first of what Robertson hopes will become numerous recordings and CD release premiere events.