Catalina Popescu has been running the club named for her for 27 years. In 1986, she’d been in Los Angeles for 10 years, after arriving in town from a repressive, jazz-averse Romania, and had tried to open a restaurant that hadn’t worked out. A chance meeting with horn player Buddy Collette led to Popescu and husband Bob opening the jazz supper club that has survived numerous waves of openings and closings in a city that has not always been friendly to jazz. They met Buddy through a family friend and were thinking about maybe presenting music. After he spoke about how great jazz was, he inspired them to open the next weekend – with his band. “He was a charming man with a beautiful smile. The way he spoke about music was a total winner for us.”
Located in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard, Catalina Bar & Grill has certainly lived up to its slogan “Nothing But The Best In Jazz” by presenting a veritable Who’s Who of jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Ahmed Jamal, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Ray Brown, Joe Williams, Max Roach, Carmen McRae, Betty Carter, Ron Carter, Joe Henderson, Benny Carter, Tony Williams, Joe Zawinul, Marcus Miller, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Michael Brecker, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jimmy Scott, Steve Tyrell, and many more.
“I can say it’s quite stressful and consuming,” Popescu says of running a club. “But when you have the passion, things happen.”
Catalina’s offers the best in jazz… along with great food… and the club is sold out with standing room only on many occasions. She is a great supporter of jazz organizations and young people entering the field. She has long been a good friend of the Los Angeles Jazz Society, American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers, the California Jazz Foundation (which recently honored her) and others. Catalina is the perfect hostess for ASMAC’s monthly luncheons as well as many of the Jazz Society’s special events including their Bill Green Mentorship Concert and annual Holiday Party.