Born: April 3, 1936 | Died: July 6, 1961 Primary Instrument: Bass
Rocco Scott LaFaro (1936-1961) was a musician of the first order, who found his 'voice' in jazz in the mid-1950s. His played the double bass violin, better known today as the acoustic bass to differentiate this instrument from the electric (or electronic) bass. His life was cut short in an automobile accident in the summer of 1961 near Geneva, New York, his home town. Although he performed for only six years (1955-1961), his innovative approach to the bass astounded his contemporaries, and to this day his recorded performances continue to surprise and delight.
Those who have found the Bill Evans Jazz Resource on the Internet know of the profound interplay among Paul Motian, Scott LaFaro and Bill Evans in a jazz trio that for many musicians to this day remains a model of sonority, complexity, and swing. Scott LaFaro's bass playing 'alchemy' (to borrow from an Ornette Coleman recording on which LaFaro performed) propelled Bill Evans to meet the artistic challenge of balance in a jazz trio.
The trios of Art Tatum, Nat Cole, and Oscar Peterson feature the pianist. Bill Evans and Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian were of one voice. The Evans trios that followed in the wake of the tragic death of Scott LaFaro in 1961, continued the search for balanced interplay but, notwithstanding the contributions of Chuck Israels and Larry Bunker, Gary Peacock, Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell and Elliot Zigmund, Marc Johnson and Joe LaBarbera, musicians with technical facility and swing, the pianist's voice remained dominant.
The post-LaFaro trios of Bill Evans achieved maturity and polish, the result of many years of playing together. Evans and LaFaro and Motian played (and recorded) as a trio less than two years, from December 1959 to June 1961. It is the sense of harmonic exploration and discovery, challenge and response, time's ebb and flow, that draws one to listen again and again to Portrait in Jazz, Explorations , Sunday at the Village Vanguard, and Waltz For Debby. These recordings are as fresh today as when they were first made, and together serve as an archetype of the jazz piano trio.
Scott LaFaro's mastery of his chosen instrument began after his 1954 graduation from high school. Although he played bass only six years, LaFaro remains a beacon for jazz bassists.
Source: Charles A. Ralston