Scott LaFaro


LaFaro 4Scott LaFaro (1936-1961) was a groundbreaking and innovative bassist. He performed and recorded with some of the most influential jazz musicians from 1957 until his untimely death in 1961 in an automobile accident. Originally a clarinetist, his story is unusual in that he did not begin playing the bass until he was almost 18 years old. He left college after his 1st year and quickly gained notoriety as a bassist on the west coast. The success and attention garnered by these early recordings attracted much attention in the jazz community. His playing shows the influence of the master bassists of the 1940s and 1950s, but he quickly separated himself from the pack. His playing is characterized by near perfect intonation, good harmonic understanding, full round sound, and a different approach to technique that utilized all four fingers on his right hand. This allowed him to literally dance across the strings and play in a much more acrobatic manner that his predecessors and many of his peers.

Scott LaFaro - Episode 1

On this podcast we will listen to some of his influences and check out his first recordings.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Sepia PanoramaJimmy Blanton/Duke Ellington1941
The HoneydripperRay Brown/Oscar PetersonNight Train1962
Softly As In A Morning SunrisePaul ChambersThe Paul Chambers Quintet1957
Serpent's ToothVictor FeldmanThe Arrival of Victor Feldman1958
BebopVictor FeldmanThe Arrival of Victor Feldman1958
For RealHampton HawesFor Real!1958
Chasing ShadowsVictor FeldmanThe Arrival of Victor Feldman1958
Ginza SambaStan Getz and Cal Tjader Sextet1958

Scott LaFaro - Episode 2

Before his tenure with the famous Bill Evans Trio, Scott performed with a number of well-known big bands in California. He was a featured soloist with the Stan Kenton Orchestra for a short period in 1959, also making memorable recordings with arranger Marty Paich and saxophonists Stan Getz and Herb Geller. Moving back to New York in late 1959, LaFaro began his association with a number of influential musicians and recorded on a number of groundbreaking recordings. Work with Booker Little, Ornette Coleman, and John Lewis helped solidify him as one of the most important young bassists on the jazz scene. His performance, together with bassist Charlie Haden, on the groundbreaking recording Free Jazz in 1960 was a revelation for bassists. This free approach to jazz would revolutionize jazz in the 1960s. His association with pianist Bill Evans began in the late 1950s. Scott brought a new, more interactive approach to his work with the Evans trio starting in 1959.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
It’s Alright with MeMarty PaichBroadway Bit1959
Bernie's TuneStan KentonStan Kenton in Concert1959
Cow SongHerb GellerGypsy1959
Bee Tee's Minor PleaBooker LittleBooker Little1960
Variant IJohn LewisJazz Abstractions1960
Variants on Criss CrossJohn LewisJazz Abstractions1960

Scott LaFaro - Episode 3

The recordings from this podcast chronicle his early work with pianist Bill Evans and some one-off recordings with clarinetist Toney Scott and a short live trio with pianist Steve Kuhn. What sets the Evans trio apart from other similar groups was the interactive approach they took. The Evans Trio was unique and groundbreaking in that all 3 instruments were liberated from the traditional roles set for them by the previous generation of jazz musicians.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Blues for an African FriendTony ScottSung Heroes1959
What Is This Thing Called LoveBill EvansPortrait in Jazz1959
Autumn LeavesBill EvansPortrait in Jazz1959
So WhatSteve Kuhn1960
Free JazzOrnette ColemanFree Jazz1960
Sweet and LovelyBill EvansExplorations1961

Scott LaFaro - Episode 4

I call this podcast “A Day in the Life of Scott Lafaro.” The recordings on this podcast are from the Live at the Village Vanguard sessions from late June 1961. These recordings are some of the most celebrated live jazz recordings ever made. One can listen with bittersweet amazement at the level of performance while knowing that LaFaro’s life would end a week later.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Alice in WonderlandBill EvansLive at the Village Vanguard1961
Detour AheadBill EvansLive at the Village Vanguard1961
Gloria's StepBill EvansLive at the Village Vanguard1961
SolarBill EvansLive at the Village Vanguard1961
Waltz for DebbieBill EvansLive at the Village Vanguard1961

Bill Evans Trio


Evans 1Bill Evans’ influences include Bud Powell, Lennie Tristano, and European keyboard music. Bill’s first important work was with band leader George Russell. Russell was one of the most forward thinking musicians of the 1940’s and 1950’s who was always looking for new modes of expression in jazz. Russell started thinking about improvising on modes 10 years before Miles Davis’s album Kind of Blue. Evans was also thinking about modal music before he joined Miles Davis in 1958—it’s probable that he and George Russell (Gil Evans, too) had discussed it. In hindsight the track “Peace Piece” from the 1958 album Everybody Digs Bill Evans is a major turning point in modern jazz. It does not really fit the mood the album even though he includes some other reflective unaccompanied ballads; “Peace Piece” bears little or no similarity to the other tracks— you be the judge. Bill Evans is probably best known for the albums recorded with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian between late 1959 and 1961. The playing on those trio albums helped re-define modern jazz rhythm section playing.

CompositionArtistAlbumYear
DisplacementBill EvansNew Conceptions in Jazz1956
MinorityBill EvansEverybody Digs Bill Evans1958
Peace PieceBill EvansEverybody Digs Bill Evans1958
Flamenco SketchesMiles Davis Kind of Blue1959
Autumn LeavesBill EvansPortrait in Jazz1959
Waltz for DebbyBill EvansVanguard Sessions1961
Some Other TimeBill EvansEverybody Digs Bill Evans1958