Scott LaFaro

Rocco Scott LaFaro (April 3, 1936 – July 6, 1961) was an American jazz double bassist known for his work with the Bill Evans Trio. LaFaro broke new ground on the instrument, developing a countermelodic style of accompaniment rather than playing traditional walking basslines, as well as virtuosity that was practically unmatched by any of his contemporaries. Despite his short career, he remains one of the most influential jazz bassists, and was ranked number 16 on Bass Player magazine’s top 100 bass players of all time.

Lafaro was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of a big band musician. LaFaro was five when his family moved to Geneva, New York. He started playing piano in elementary school, bass clarinet in middle school, and tenor saxophone when he entered high school. He took up double bass at 18 before entering college because learning a string instrument was required of music education majors. After three months at Ithaca College, he concentrated on bass. He played in groups at the College Spa and Joe’s Restaurant on State Street in downtown Ithaca.

LaFaro died in an automobile accident on July 6, 1961, in Seneca, New York, on U.S. Route 20 between Geneva and Canandaigua, four days after accompanying Stan Getz at the Newport Jazz Festival. According to Paul Motian, the death of LaFaro left Bill Evans “numb with grief”, “in a state of shock”, and “like a ghost”. Obsessively he played “I Loves You Porgy“, a tune that had become synonymous with him and LaFaro. Evans stopped performing for several months.

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