Previous: 1936-1949 -- Next: 1956-1957
1950 (aet. 14)
|September||Geneva, NY||Began his Freshman year at GHS. Studied clarinet, bass
clarinet, and tenor saxophone. Became a member of the band and orchestra under the
direction of Godfrey Brown, GHS music director and Scott's mentor. (Conversation,
July 1996, with Helene LaFaro-Fernandez.)
1951 (aet. 15)
|June||Geneva, NY||Completed his Freshman year. During this time, Brownie, as
Mr. Brown was affectionately known by his students, taught Scott theory. When Scott
enrolled in the theory class taught by Miss Inez Nease, he was well grounded
already in the subject, but had to take her course because of academic
requirements. He was bored to tears. He actually taught fellow classmates Bob Umiker, Gail Brown, and Pat Stine. Miss Nease eventually left
GHS and teaching to join the U.S.
|July||Geneva, NY||Worked as a cook at Camp Babcock Covey, a summer camp run by
the Presbyterian Church for Geneva's youth.
|September||Geneva, NY||Began his Sophomore year. Served as Vice-president of the
sophomore class. Also was a member of the Rifle Club.
Selected as a member of New York's
'All-State' high school band, along with fellow Geneva High School band
members Sully Acquilano, Lynn Remmel, Floyd Cole, Nancy Lyon, and Olden
Bowers (Finger Lakes Times, Geneva, NY, 13 November 2001, C6, "50
Years Ago Today")
|Norristown, PA||John Francis 'Jaco' Pastorius born. Often billed as "The World's Greatest Bassist" Jaco played with Weather Report, with Paul Bley, Pat Metheny, Ira Sullivan, Joni Mitchell, et al. He died 21 Sep 87 (aet. 35) after a severe beating by a bouncer at Fort Lauderdale's Midnight Club, which venue Jaco tried to enter. Miles wrote 'Mr. Pastorius' for Jaco.|
1952 (aet. 16)
|January||Geneva, NY||Played at a GHS dance held at the Civic Center, as a member of the
Rhythm Aires (with
Helen Consentino, Roderick Umiker, and Robert Wooley). (From "Days of
Yore -- 50 Years Ago (1952) in the Finger Lakes Times, Geneva,
NY, Wednesday 9 January 2002, p. 5B. Courtesy of Jim Ralston.)
|June||Geneva, NY||Finished his Sophomore year.
|September||Geneva, NY||Began his Junior year. Scott asked fellow musician Gail
Brown to bring her bass violin over near him so he could better hear her playing. Scott
then asks Gail to show him the correct fingering positions on the bass. His interest
became an infatuation with the bass during this time. (Conversation, August 1997,
with Gail Brown-Kirk.)
1953 (aet. 17)
|Winter-Spring||Geneva, NY||Injured his lip while playing basketball at the local YMCA.
Six stitches were required to close the would which resulted in his lip
"hanging a bit on the one side" (Helene LaFaro's phrase).
Scott believed this injury changed his embouchure and degraded his saxophone sound. He felt
frustrated that he could not sound like Lee Konitz. About the same time he heard
bassist Leroy Vinnegar perform in one of the local clubs and was enthralled with
his music. (Conversation, June 1996, with Helene LaFaro-Fernandez, and
E-mail 14 May 2001 from Helene.)
|Easter Week||Geneva, NY||Received the sacrament of Confirmation at Saint Francis de
Sales Roman Catholic Church.
|June||Geneva, NY||Finished his Junior year. Photos in The Class of 1953 (vol.
29) GHS Seneca Saga yearbook: p. 64 "Band" (holding clarinet, front row
last on the right) as 'R. LaFaro'; p. 66 "Band Leaders" as 'S. LaFaro'. Also p.
66 "Orchestra" as 'S. LaFaro' (playing tenor saxophone, back row, 2d from left).
Note in the latter photo, his sister, 'H. [Helene] LaFaro' at center of vocal trio.
|Summer||Geneva, NY||Played baritone bugle in the Geneva Apple Knockers Drum and
Bugle Corps, which performed in a national competition held at Washington,
|September||Geneva, NY||Began his Senior year. During this time LaFaro played some
local nightclubs. His father took him to see Stan Kenton perform at nearby Sampson
Air Force Base, fifteen miles south of Geneva near Romulus, NY. He was impressed with Duke
Ellington, Zoot Sims, and others who played in the area. (Conversation, July
1996, with Helene LaFaro-Fernandez.)
1954 (aet. 18)
|June||Geneva, NY||Graduated from GHS. Senior photo in The Class of 1954
(vol. 30) GHS Seneca Saga yearbook, p. 28, has entry"
Note: This inaccurate, inverted display of Scott Rocco LaFaro above the photo has caused some confusion as to Scott's legal, given name, which is Rocco Scott LaFaro. Helene, Scott's older sister, assures me that neither Scott nor their father ever used the name 'Rocco' when referring to themselves. It was always either Scott LaFaro (for Scott himself) or Joseph or Joe LaFaro (for his father).
|Summer||Geneva, NY||Continued to play with the Geneva Apple Knockers Drum and
Bugle Corps. Also played tenor saxophone and bass with Geneva-area musicians: Charles
Ralston, drums; George Telarico, guitar; Ray DeSio, trombone, Dick
Hunt, piano; Sam Venuti, piano; Frank Alvaro, piano; Ray Helmer,
drums; and others, to wit: Jack Bullock; Jack Kenyon, Frankie Farr; Eddie
Note: Geneva nightclubs that LaFaro
played included Club 86, Pronti's Restaurant, Deluxe Grill, Club 5 & 20, among others.
(Recollection of a conversation about LaFaro with my father, Charles F[rancis]. (Charlie) Ralston,
in 1961 shortly after LaFaro's death. Ralston served as Secretary, Local 570, American
Federation of Musicians, for most of the 1950s, and knew most musicians working in and
around Geneva at the time.)
|Fall||Ithaca, NY||Attended Ithaca College (formerly the Ithaca Conservatory of
Music) in Ithaca, NY, to end of Spring 1955
Note: According to fellow student, Tony Mele, courses that LaFaro might have taken included: Harmony I, Ear Training I, Sight-Singing I, Introduction to Music, English Composition, European History, one or two ensembles, and applied music (i.e., bass lessons).
Some of LaFaro's instructors would have included: George Driscoll, piano and harmony, and Warren Benson, ear training and sight singing, composition, music history. LaFaro may have studied bass with Forrest Sanders, then the 'cello instructor.
Any jazz playing would have been with ensembles that played
in and around Ithaca. LaFaro played at the College Spa, a local Ithaca restaurant, with Suzanne
Stewart and Edie Stewart, sisters and vocalists from Ithaca, and a drummer and
pianist. LaFaro was a friend of Elwood Peters, jazz trumpet player. (Letter, 3
March 1996, from Tony Mele.)
|Fall||Ithaca, NY||Note: Gail Brown, a music student at Ithaca
College the year following LaFaro's departure from the college, recalls
during a visit to the college, Scott practicing the bass in one of many Quonset huts which served as music
practice rooms (these military structures may have been acquired by the College from the
recently closed Sampson Air Force Base).
Scott would practice 6 to 12 hours a day and often
neglected to take a lunch or dinner break. He was serious, responsible, but quick to
smile. His instructor in the history of music was Dean Rawski and one
Pulaski taught him sight-reading. Forrest 'Sandy' Sanders was bass violin
|Fall||Ithaca, NY||Note: According to fellow musician, Suzanne Stewart,
LaFaro played bass in a group led by pianist Charlie Delgado, that included also,
Elwood Peters, trumpet; Jesse Avery, sax; Paul Dale, trumpet and vocals; and
an unidentified drummer. The group performed at Joe's Restaurant, West Buffalo St.,
LaFaro liked such tunes as 'You
Don't Know What Love Is', 'Don't Explain', 'Detour', 'Spring Can Really Hang You Up the
Most', 'Lush Life', 'Let's Get Lost', to name a few. (Letter, 1 November 1996, from
1955 (aet. 19)
|Winter||Ithaca, NY||Gail Brown last saw LaFaro during the early winter of 1955
when both bumped into each other in a record store in Ithaca -- they were looking for
recordings of Ted Heath, big band leader from England. They went to a local deli
for pecan pie and root beer for old time's sake as they used to do in their hometown
|Spring||Ithaca, NY||LaFaro told fellow student Tony Mele over dinner
that he (LaFaro) was leaving college to try his luck in music in California. "He had
had it with a lot of the course work and wanted to concentrate solely on playing and
perfecting his bass playing." (Letter, 3 March 1996, from Tony Mele.)
|Sat 12 Mar||New York||Charlie Parker (born 29 August
1920, Kansas City, MO) died, aet. 34
|Summer||Syracuse, NY||"Il joue a Syracuse, a l'Embassy Club, et alentour. Il
n'a pas de passe, il connait peu de contrebassistes. Dans le juke-box de L'Embassy, il a
ecoute Percy Heath, Paul Chambers, et puis Lee Konitz avec Stan
Kenton. Il n'en connait guere davantage, mais le jazz est la et la basse le
seduit." (Jean-Pierre Binchet, "Le Phare LaFaro," Jazz Magazine
153 (Apr 68) p. 20.)
LaFaro also listened to a juke box recording (or song?) by Stan Kenton entitled, 'Prologue' with Miles Davis; Heath and/or Chambers; Kenton and/or Konitz (Williams, "Introducing" p. 16.)
The Embassy Club was in Syracuse's 15th Ward, principally east and south of the downtown
area, known locally as 'The Ward'. It was an African-American neighborhood with many jazz
clubs in the 1940s and '50s. Other clubs included The English Club, Satellite Club, The
Clef, The Coda, The Penguin, Clover Club, Club 800, Jazz Corner. Some local greats include
Peanuts Hucko, Sal Nistico, Chris Powell. (Conversation with Frank
Malfitano; Syracuse, NY, 23 May 96.)
|Fall||New York?||"That fall  he joined
[the] Buddy Morrow [Orchestra], having
been hired without an audition, and remained until September 1956. Scott joined Chet
Baker a few weeks later, and stayed with him until May 1957 when he
[?Baker] came to Los
Angeles." (Nat Hentoff, program notes, The Arrival of Victor Feldman.)
Previous: 1936-1949 -- Next: 1956-1957
Bibliography -- Books A-F Discography -- All Acknowledgements Bibliography -- Books G-K Chronology -- 1936-1949 Discography -- 1956--1957 Items Lacking Bibliography -- Books L-R Chronology -- 1950-1955 Discography -- 1958 Memorial Award Bibliography -- Books S-Z Chronology -- 1956-1957 Discography -- 1959 Musician Associates Bibliography -- Mags A-F Chronology -- 1958 Discography -- 1960 Photography Bibliography -- Mags G-K Chronology -- 1959 Discography -- 1961 Renderings Bibliography -- Mags L-R Chronology -- 1960 Discography -- 1961--1979 Bibliography -- Mags S-Z Chronology -- 1961 Discography -- 1980--1989 Sunday Vanguard Matrix Bibliography -- Miscellany Discography -- 1990--1999 Bibliography -- Web Sources Discography -- 2000-- 2001 ISB LaFaro Tribute