Born into a musical family, Larry has been playing the guitar since he was seven years old. In his early years he studied with legendary guitar master Jimmy Wyble, and at the age of fifteen he recorded an album with his father, guitarist Dave Koonse, entitled Dave and Larry Koonse; father and son jazz guitars. In 1984, Larry was the first recipient of a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California.
Immediately after graduating from USC Larry toured extensively for six years as a member of the John Dankworth quartet, traveling all across the globe and backing up Cleo Laine. He is a member of Billy Child’s landmark chamber sextet whose most recent CD release is titled Autumn: In Moving Pictures. He has received multiple grammy nominations for the aforementioned CD (jazz album of the year and instrumental performance); for the sextet’s first release Lyric (ensemble performance); and for two Luciana Souza releases (best vocal album for Tide and Book of Chet). He has also toured with Mel Torme, Bob Brookmeyer, Billy Childs, John Patitucci, David Friesen, Karrin Allyson, Luciana Souza, Natalie Cole, Bob Mintzer, Tierney Sutton, Peter Erskine, Hubert Laws, Warne Marsh and was a featured performer with the Percy Faith Orchestra on a tour of Japan.
At the invitation of Nelson Mandela and UNICEF, Larry traveled to South Africa to perform for the first annual SAMIX festival with the Steve Houghton quintet. He also performed with Gary Willis in Sao Paulo for a government sponsored concert at SESC Ipiranga. In his travels, he has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Academy of Music, Disney Hall, the Sydney Opera House, and has been a featured soloist with the L.A. Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and many other orchestras throughout the world.
Having been featured on over 300 albums, Larry has recorded with Cleo Laine, Al Hirt, Jimmy Rowles, Bob Brookmeyer, Luciana Souza, Lee Konitz, Larry Goldings, Mel Torme, Alan Broadbent, Ray Brown, Bill Perkins, Toots Thielemanns, Rod Stewart, Seth MacFarlane, Linda Ronstadt, David Friesen, Bob Sheppard, Bob Mintzer, Peter Erskine, Warne Marsh, Charlie Haden, Natalie Cole and many other jazz artists. His solo guitar work was featured throughout “Crazy”, a feature film chronicling the life of the great guitarist Hank Garland.
The founder of the Player’s School, the renown bassist Jeff Berlin, contacted Larry in 1995 to write a guitar curriculum which is currently used for their program. He was co-leader of the L.A. Jazz Quartet which released their fourth CD, Conversation Piece (NAXOS Records) in September, 2000. The quartet’s first three CDs, Astarte (GOWI), Look To The East (NAXOS), and Family Song (NTR), have received critical acclaim for their originality and musical depth. Larry’s most recent recording, Conversations, a CD featuring the great pianist David Roitstein in a set of originals and standards, is now available through Jazz Compass (www.jazzcompass.com). He has four other releases on the Jazz Compass label: Americana (a recording featuring Scott Colley on the bass), Dialogues of the Heart (featuring his father Dave Koonse in a guitar duo setting), Storybook (featuring the bassist Darek Oles), and What’s in the Box, featuring the music of the great guitarist/composer Jimmy Wyble in various settings. Larry has been a faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts since 1990.