They may be just across the 101 freeway from each other, within spitting distance, but there’s a world of difference between the Universal Amphitheater and the beloved hole-in-the-wall called the Baked Potato. One is a sprawling hall, the other a tiny North Hollywood jazz club which has survived for 30 years. This is the spot where many L.A.-based musicians, including Tom Scott, Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour and on and on, have decamped by night to do research and development, while pursuing other “straight” jobs in the studios by day.
Guitarist Andy Summers, former rock star and now an Angeleno headlong into a solo career as an instrumentalist, has seen both sides, and taken the stage of both venues. As the inventive guitarist for that mega-pop band, the Police, Summers made hay on the arena circuit until the band came to an end in the mid-’80s. Of late, you’re likely to find Summers’ name on the Baked Potato marquee on a Wednesday night. And he couldn’t be happier about it.