Rocco Scott LaFaro was born on April 3, 1936 in Irvington, New Jersey and grew up in Geneva, New York when his family moved there when he was five. His father played in many big bands and started him on the piano in elementary school. He switched to the bass clarinet in junior high school and the tenor saxophone in high school. It wasn’t until he was eighteen the summer before entering Ithaca College that he finally landed on the double bass.
During the early weeks of his sophomore year Scott joined Buddy Morrow and his big band, then left them in Los Angeles, California after a cross-country tour. Luck prevailed and he quickly found work and became known as one of the best of the young bassists. He studied under Red Mitchell who taught him how to pluck the strings with both the index and middle fingers independently. By 1958 he was spending much of the year in pianist/percussionist Victor Feldman’s band.
In 1959, after many gigs with Chet Baker, Stan Kenton, Cal Tjader, and Benny Goodman he moved back east and joined Bill Evans after his recent departure from Miles Davis. Along with Paul Motian and Evans that he developed and expanded the counter-melodic style that would come to characterize his playing. The trio committed to the idea of three equal voices in the trio, collectively working together organically towards a singular musical idea, often without the time being explicitly stated. LaFaro’s prodigious technique on bass made this concept possible.
By late 1960, LaFaro replaced Charlie Haden as Ornette Coleman’s bassist. In between gigs with Evans he played with Stan Getz and got a recruitment card of interest from Miles Davis. By summer they settled into the Village Vanguard in New York City for a two-week gig. The last day of the run, June 25, was recorded live in its entirely for eventual release as two albums, Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz For Debby, both considered among the finest live jazz recordings of all time.
Double bassist Scott LaFaro passed away from an automobile accident on July 6, 1961 in Flint, New York four days after accompanying Stan Getz at the Newport Jazz Festival and ten days after the Village Vanguard recordings with the Bill Evans Trio.
Posthumously, in 2009, the University of North Texas Press published Jade Visions, a biography of Scott LaFaro by his sister Helene LaFaro-Fernandez. It includes an extensive discography of his recorded work. The same year Resonance Records released Pieces of Jade, the first album released featuring Scott 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, as well as 22 minutes of LaFaro and Bill Evans practicing My Foolish Heart in late 1960 during a rehearsal.
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Stephen Scott was born March 13, 1969 in Queens, New York. He started piano at the age of five, and progressed rapidly to the point where he was taking private lessons at Juilliard at 12. Grounded in classical music, he was also exposed to reggae and salsa on the radio. It was in high school that he was introduced to jazz, giving Justin Robinson credit.
By the age of 18, Scott was playing in the Betty Carter band and soon began performing or recording with the likes of the Harper Brothers, Wynton Marsalis, Bobby Watson and Bobby Hutcherson.
Beginning in 1991, as a leader and solo artist, Stephen recorded a stream of mainstream albums for Verve and Enja record labels, using mixtures of fellow young lions Roy Hargrove, Craig Handy, Peter Washington, Christian McBride, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Lewis Nash and esteemed veterans like Joe Henderson, Ron Carter and Elvin Jones as sidemen. Henderson returned the invite on his commercial breakthrough Lush Life, the same year and also recorded with Freddie Hubbard and Sonny Rollins.
Jazz pianist Stephen Scott continues to perform, tour and record fusing his neo-bop music base with soul jazz tendencies with Latin rhythms.
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Noel Lorica was born on January 29, 1968 in Manila, Philippines and played in a rock band as a teenager. His mother urged him to take piano lessons but his love was always the acoustic guitar. Musically at that time he got exposed to the music of George Benson, Wes Montgomery, Paul Desmond, and the modern jazz instrumentalists. Leaving home he first migrated to San Francisco then went east and worked in New York and around Philadelphia.
He later moved to South Florida where he found Latin Beats and jazz influences were all around. Finding his perfect musical fit he started to concentrate on perfecting his craft through tireless practice and soulful dedication. His music today is an expression of his musical and personal journey.
Noel has received critical acclaim for his skill & artistry, has had two PBS specials, and with his band Treebo has played major festivals around the world. He has opened for Marcus Miller, has won Jazz Song of the Year and Best Jazz Instrumental solo, Best Instrumental Arrangement, and has been featured in Billboard and Italian Jazz magazines.The guitarist has released four albums and currently continues to perform jazz and Latin music.
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Bill Ware III was born William Anthony Ware III on January 28, 1959 in East Orange, New Jersey. He played bass and piano early in his career at Harlem’s Jazzmobile, prior to choosing vibraphone as his main instrument. After spending several years playing Latin jazz he formed his own Latin Jazz group, AM Sleep.
In 1987 Ware joined saxophonist Roy Nathanson and trombonist Curtis Fowlkes’ Jazz Passengers as a regular memberand by 1990 had put together a group of sidemen as the Club Bird All-Stars, who accompanied him on a tour of Japan. Stretching out to other genres he played with Groove Collective and Steely Dan during the first half Nineties.
Later in the decade Bill teamed up with fellow former Jazz Passengers, Brad Jones and E. J. Rodriguez forming the ensemble Vibes. His 2001 tribute to Duke Ellington was recorded with guitarist Marc Ribot, and Deborah Harry on his 2002 effort Four.
During the mid-2000s, he recorded several projects blending jazz with Western Classical music as well as composing five film scores with Nathanson. He recorded fourteen solo projects as a leader for AM Sleep, Knitting Factory, Cathexis, Wollenware, Random Chance and Pony Canyon record labels. Vibraphonist Bill Ware continues to compose, perform and record.
Manny Oquendo was born on January 1, 1931 in New York City of Puerto Rican ancestry. Growing up he began studying percussion in 1945 and went on to work in the tropical bands and Latin music ensembles like Carlos Valero, Luis del Campo, Juan “El Boy” Torres, Chano Pozo, Jose Budet, Juanito Sanabria, Marcelino Guerra, Jose Curbelo and Pupi Campo.
In 1950, he became the bongo player for Tito Puente followed by Tito Rodriguez four years later. He moved on to Vicentico Valdes the next year and freelanced in the City before joining Eddie Palmieri’s Conjunto La Perfecta in 1962, where he helped develop the New York style of the mozambique rhythm.
Manny co-led Conjunto Libre with bassist Andy González from 1974 and had a worldwide hit with the Freddie Hubbard composition Little Sunflower in 1983 on the album Ritmo, Sonido y Estilo. He also was a sideman with Paul Quinichette.
His timbales solos were famous for their tastefully sparse, straight forward “típico” phrasing and his solos also incorporated the rhythmic language of the folkloric quinto, the lead drum ofrumba. Percussionist Manny Oquendo, who also played bongos, timbales, and left a small catalogue of nine albums as a leader, passed away on March 25, 2009.