The self-produced I Remember Woody was put together by educator, composer, and musician John LaPorta in honor of his former employer, the famed big band leader Woody Herman. If there ever was an independently produced recording that cried out for broader distribution, this is the one. Firmly conventional without being stodgy, traditionally swinging without being boring, I Remember Woody is a mainstream dream with a swing fan’s heart. In his liner notes, LaPorta conjures the names of Ellington, Basie, and Herman in the same breath.
This brings up a bias of mine. Within the realms of swing and ...read more
Despite having played with Gillespie, Parker, and Mingus during his career, John LaPorta remains a largely unknown figure. Perhaps his biggest contribution is in the study of music--he was on the faculty of Berklee for 38 years and presumably can count scores of jazz musicians as his former students. This CD, which collects two of LaPorta’s albums from the fifties (and currently the only early LaPorta music in print), has the air of academia about it, since it relies heavily on composition and was labored over for a series of months rather than conceived hastily in the studio. LaPorta, fascinated ...read more
It is unfortunate that John LaPorta’s accomplishments as jazz educator, including three decades at the Berklee College of Music, may have overshadowed his expertise as a player, especially stints with Woody Herman’s big band, and the combos of Lennie Tristano and Charles Mingus. Life Cycle, his ninth recording as a leader (or co-leader), is an assured statement by a musician with something significant to say beyond the confines of the classroom.
LaPorta composed all of the 11 cuts on the recording and, for his sidemen, chose some of the cream of the Berklee faculty, guitarist Rick Peckham, bassist Jim Stinnett, ...read more