Scott LaFaro Day, Scott LaFaro Drive

Scott LaFaroGeneva, a town of 13,000 in New York State’s Finger Lakes district, is the home town of Scott LaFaro. The brilliant bassist of the Bill Evans Trio influenced the development of jazz bass playing, and the town is keeping his memory alive. He died near Geneva in an auto accident in 1961. Thanks to Rifftides readers Frank Roellinger and Svetlana Ilyicheva for alerting us that last Thursday, Geneva honored LaFaro on his 78th birthday by proclaiming April 3rd its first annual Scott LaFaro Day. On Friday, the town’s monthly Geneva Night Out celebration included a concert by a quartet performing LaFaro compositions, and the bassist’s recordings playing at a book store called Stomping Grounds. Jim Meaney, the coordinator of Geneva Night Out, said,

LaFaro was a revolutionary and singular musician, but his contributions to the music world aren’t widely known to many Geneva residents. This effort aims to give recognition to LaFaro’s short but stellar career, while creating a platform for future jazz tribute concerts, festivals, and events in Geneva that will honor LaFaro’s legacy.

In addition, the town renamed a street Scott LaFaro Drive.

Scott La Faro Drive

Here is one reason Geneva finds LaFaro worth honoring—the bassist with Bill Evans and Paul Motian playing his most famous composition, “Jade Visions” from Sunday at the Village Vanguard.

For details about Geneva’s LaFaro day, go here. For an extensive Rifftides appreciation of LaFaro, analysis of his importance and rare videos, go here.

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  1. Bobbe Norris says

    I had quite a long conversation with Scott while he was working with Bill at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco in the early ’60s. He died a few days later. I believe that the car accident was in Big Sur, CA.

    • Doug Ramsey says

      The accident was in Flint, New York, on U.S. Route 20 between Geneva and Canandaigua

  2. Bob DeRosa says

    Sure wish they had done their PR better. As a bassist and LaFaro fan who lives only 45 minutes from Geneva, I definitely would have been there.

    • says

      Hi Bob –

      I’m sorry you didn’t hear about the event! Our local daily paper, the Finger Lakes Times, ran several articles leading up to (and after) the dedication. While the City of Geneva took care of the logistics for the street renaming, our handful of volunteers from Geneva Night Out were responsible for organizing and publicizing the event with a tiny budget and limited time frame. We notified regional media in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, but alas, they chose not to report on it. I sincerely hope you can make it to Geneva for the April 3rd, 2015 Geneva Night Out, during which we will again honor our native son Scotty.

  3. Don Conner says

    Thanks for posting the Lafaro/Kamuca videos. I can’t top all the great things that have been said about Scott, so I’ll just say he had the jazz world in his hand—short career, high influence!

  4. says

    I was sitting with Ray Brown at the Village Vanguard, listening to Scott with Bill Evans and Paul Motian. Ray was just beside himself with delight at Scott’s playing. “Listen to this kid!” he exulted, “He’s really got his own thing going there… what a nice way of doing things!” We both were charmed and delighted with the whole trio, and marveled at the idea that none of the three of them were being explicit about the time, because it was so clearly understood among them where it was. It didn’t make the four-four bass line obsolete, but it opened up so many new possibilities. We were extremely high from the experience.