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 musiche 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 with the possibilities of Third Stream music, fashions compositions with isosceles chord progressions that always seem to hover around a tonal center without landing. Instruments are joined in various combinations to produce angular riffs that tend toward the atonal, but are rarely unsettling. LaPorta has also provided lengthy passages for solo space and the front line makes the most of the freedom to lay down some interesting passages. He bears the detached formality of much of the cool school in his own soloing, but Wilcox and Barrow come on with more heat. Cirillo, on the other hand, seems grounded in the classical tradition and thus fits in well with LaPorta’s aspirations. Wendell Marshall, a veteran of the Ellington band, swings the beat marvelously. Although this music probably sounded a bit unusual when it was conceived, today it comes off as a fairly easy listen, which highlights how pervasive LaPorta’s approach eventually became. In fact, LaPorta’s music bears a strong resemblance to George Russell’s (another jazz academician) in his almost obsessive attention to detail, and fans of his music will likely find much to admire in LaPorta’s compositions. At almost 80 minutes running time, this CD is quite a bargain and a testament to the work of an unknown master.
Track Listing: Theme: Blues Chorale, 1st Variation (Basso Profundo), 2nd Variation
(Jazz Canon), 3rd Variation (Tribute to Bird), 4th Variation (Images), 5th
Variation (Jazz Fugue), 6th Variation (From the Cool School), 7th Variation
(Changing Times), 8th Variation (Two Brothers), 9th Variation (Lucidity),
10th Variation (Forward Motion), 11th Variation (Nuage), 12th Variation
(Finale) Two for One, Theme, Concertina for Clarinet, Perdido, Small Blue
Opus, Absentee, En Rapport, Lou's Tune, Ferm
Personnel: John LaPorta-clarinet, alto saxophone; Louis Mucci-trumpet; Sonny
Russo-trombone; Larry Wilcox-tenor saxophone; George Barrow, SOl
Schlinger-baritone saxophone; Wally Cirillo-piano; Wendell
Marshall-bass; Clem DeRosa-drums.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.