159

John LaPorta: Life Cycle

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
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, and drummer Joe Hunt. Although the disc includes a number of arresting solos, his primary concern is the interaction between all of the members of the group. The rapport between the leader’s tenor saxophone and clarinet and Peckham is notable as they frequently play written contrapuntal passages and improvise around each other’s phrases with ease. From straight-ahead swing to sections without a fixed pulse, both Stinnett and Hunt meet the varied demands of the compositions and contribute significantly to the overall sound. Hunt, in particular, is important because his light yet decisive touch and less-is-more approach to rhythms meshes well with the airy, somewhat cerebral manner of LaPorta’s music.

In playing a written melody or taking a solo, LaPorta never reaches for extremes to make his point. On “J.V. Blues (dedicated to Joe Viola),” for example, his woody sound on clarinet injects a blues feeling in a subtle, understated way. A brief solo turn on tenor during the samba “Lo Bastante” creates suspense by beginning with sustained tones and continues with brief flurries of notes held together by his rich tone. With Stinnett and Hunt on top of every nuance, “Conversion,” the warmest of LaPorta’s lines with Peckham, features solos by both that emphasize an easy swing and the slow but steady building of momentum.

Track Listing: Chootabaka Fatback; J.V. Blues (dedicated to Joe Viola); Repartee; Presidential Encounter; Lo Bastante; Two Plus Two; Alternative; Life Cycle; Valentine Variations; Conversion; Man To Man

Personnel: John LaPorta--clarinet and tenor saxophone; Rick Peckham--electric guitar; Jim Stinnett--acoustic bass; Joe Hunt--drums.

| Record Label: Civil Defense | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Dreamsville CD/LP/Track Review Dreamsville
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 26, 2017
Read April CD/LP/Track Review April
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Small World CD/LP/Track Review Small World
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 26, 2017
Read High Time CD/LP/Track Review High Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Rags And Roots CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Transparent Water" CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 29, 2016
Read "Dream Delivery" CD/LP/Track Review Dream Delivery
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 28, 2016
Read "Kucheza" CD/LP/Track Review Kucheza
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: January 1, 2017
Read "Parrhésie" CD/LP/Track Review Parrhésie
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 17, 2016
Read "3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011" CD/LP/Track Review 3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Wonders" CD/LP/Track Review Wonders
by Mark F. Turner
Published: August 12, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!