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Rocco Scott LaFaro (April 3, 1936 – July 6, 1961) was an influential jazz bassist, perhaps best known for his work with the Bill Evans Trio.

Biography

Born in Newark, New Jerseymarker, LaFaro grew up in a musical family (his father played in many big bands). He started on piano while in elementary school, began on the bass clarinet in junior high school, changing to tenor saxophone when he entered high school in Geneva, NY. He only took up the double bass at 17 in the summer before he entered college, when he learned a string instrument was required for music education majors. About three months into his studies at Ithaca Collegemarker in Ithaca, NYmarker, LaFaro decided to concentrate on bass. He often played in groups at the College Spa and Joe's Restaurant on State Street in downtown Ithaca.

He entered college to study music but left during the early weeks of his Sophomore year, when he joined Buddy Morrow and his big band. He left that organization in Los Angeles after a cross country tour and decided to try his luck in the Los Angelesmarker music scene. There, he quickly found work and became known as one of the best of the young bassists. In 1959, after many gigs with such luminaries as Chet Baker, Victor Feldman, Stan Kenton, Cal Tjader , and Benny Goodman, LaFaro joined Bill Evans, who had recently left the Miles Davis Sextet. It was with Evans and drummer Paul Motian that LaFaro developed and expanded the counter-melodic style that would come to characterize his playing. Ornette Coleman also collaborated with him around this time.

LaFaro played a double bass made in 1825 in Concord, New Hampshiremarker by Abraham Prescott. The top of the instrument is a three-piece plate of slab-cut fir; the back is a two-piece plate of moderately flamed maple with an ebony inlay at the center joint; the sides are made of matching maple. It has rolled corners on the bottom and very sloped shoulders on the top, making it easier to get in and out of thumb position.

In 2009, Resonance Records released "Pieces of Jade", the first album released featuring LaFaro as a bandleader. The album includes five selections recorded in New York City during 1961 that showcase LaFaro with pianist Don Friedman and drummer Pete LaRoca.

Death

LaFaro died in an automobile accident in the summer of 1961 in Flint, New York on US 20 between Genevamarker and Canandaigua, two days after accompanying Stan Getz at the Newport Jazz Festival. His death came just ten days after recording two live albums with the Bill Evans Trio, Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby, albums considered among the finest live jazz recordings.

Although he performed for only six years (1955-1961), LaFaro's innovative approach to the bass redefined jazz playing bringing an "emancipation" introducing "so many diverse possibilities as would have been thought impossible for the bass only a short time before" , and inspired a generation of bassists who followed him.

References

  1. Jazz Improv Magazine
  2. news, reviews, biography, video, youtube videos, discography, books, DVDs, concerts, gossip, pictures and tour dates
  3. Ralston
  4. allmusic ((( Scott LaFaro > Overview )))
  5. Ralston
  6. Marc Johnson’s Homage to Bill Evans & Scott La Faro
  7. Ralston


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