Jazz Legend Scott LaFaro Celebrated with
Previously Unreleased Performances,
Rehearsal Tape and
Bill Evans Interview on Resonance Records -
Heirloom Series' Pieces of Jade
Pieces of Jade to be released with new
LaFaro Biography: Jade Visions
"His approach to the bass ... it was a beautiful thing to see...
He was a constant inspiration." - Bill Evans
In the annals of jazz, it is rare that a musician garners both the respect and admiration of fans and musicians alike. In fact, there may be just a handful worthy of the treatment legendary bassist Scott LaFaro receives with Pieces of Jade. An artist of prodigious talent, LaFaro was cut down at the early age of 25, well before he could have established himself as the great musician he was becoming.
Already a vital element in the groundbreaking trio with pianist Bill Evans and drummer Paul Motian - captured for all time with their live Village Vanguard recordings from 1961 - LaFaro was already spreading his unique musical visions within a variety of contexts. Establishing co-equal status with Evans, LaFaro enlarged the role of the bass in part by his dynamic uses of rhythm and independent lines at both the low and upper ranges of his instrument. Starting early on with such greats as Chet Baker, Barney Kessel, Cal Tjader and Benny Goodman, LaFaro went on to participate in the energetic and experimental magic of Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz (sharing the bass spotlight with fellow traveler Charlie Haden in a double-quartet setting). He also played with Gunther Schuller's ensemble on Jazz Abstractions and lastly, with Stan Getz, who he performed with at the 1961 Newport Jazz Festival just before his tragic death from a car accident.
Pieces of Jade features material previously unavailable to American audiences. Among the highlights is a rare glimpse inside the creative process with LaFaro in an extended practice session with Bill Evans, both of them working through a standard they practically owned, "My Foolish Heart." Also included are five selections recorded in New York City during 1961 that showcase LaFaro with pianist Don Friedman and drummer Pete LaRoca. A mix of standards with two takes of an original tune from Friedman, the program adds another original by the pianist recorded in 1985, the touching solo piece "Memories for Scotty."
"This great music was actually a demo," says Executive Producer and Resonance label head George Klabin. Klabin, who recorded not only the interview with Evans in 1966 but also Friedman's "Memories for Scotty," adds, "The demo is why they recorded together. These five cuts were sent to Riverside Records and were what got Friedman his first album deal [A Day In The City, with Chuck Israels and Joe Hunt]. I feel fortunate that I have a record company where I can put this material out. A portion of the proceeds will go toward funding the Scott LaFaro Prize, offered as part the International Society of Bassists biennial jazz competition."
Pieces of Jade opens with a lovely rendition of the standard "I Hear A Rhapsody." Also included are two takes of Friedman's elegant swinging blues "Sacré Bleu"" along definitive treatments of the gay and bouncy "On Green Dolphin Street" and Dizzy Gillespie's snappy "Woody'n You."
"I've had these tapes since 1966," Klabin explains. "What happened was in the mid-'80s I met with Don Friedman at my place. One of the pieces he played was 'Memories for Scotty,' which I recorded in my living room on my grand piano. That got me thinking of the tapes and if I had a label I could put this stuff out. When I started my label in 2008, I realized this music would be perfect for the Heirloom division of Resonance Records." As for Friedman's song for LaFaro, Friedman notes, "It was a written piece of music with improvisation. We were all friends and Scott and I were roommates at the time. I had recorded with Pete earlier. I knew Scott in California and played with him there. I just wished Scotty had been around a little longer so we could have made more music together."
In addition to Pieces of Jade, Resonance Records will be marketing Jade Visions: The Life and Music of Scott LaFaro, written by LaFaro's sister, Helene LaFaro Hernandez. "We are very, very happy to release Jade Visions about the life of Scott LaFaro and written by his sister Helene," says Klabin. "It's a fortuitous occasion. We are very, very happy to release the music and book together.
"I feel very fortunate to have been chosen by the universe to curate, to protect this release," Klabin concludes. "I am moved and honored to be a part of it all. This man changed the way the bass is played. Scott LaFaro was the Charlie Parker of his instrument. And the release ofPieces of Jade is in keeping with one of Resonance Records' mandates, which is, as a non-profit, to make historically important jazz recordings available to the public."
SCOTT LAFARO - PIECES OF JADE
Resonance Records HCD-2005/ Release Date: September 8, 2009
For further information on this and other Resonance Records releases, visitwww.ResonanceRecords.org
Resonance Records is a program of the Rising Jazz Stars Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation
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