[7 December 2009]
Bassist Scott LaFaro was only six years into his professional jazz career before dying at age 25 in a fatal car crash in upstate New York two days after accompanying Stan Getz at his legendary 1961 Newport Jazz Festival appearance. In that short span of time, which saw him play on Ornette Coleman’s revolutionary 1960 album Free Jazz and play a key role in Bill Evans’ beloved first trio alongside drummer Paul Motian, LaFaro made such an impact on the modern jazz world that his groundbreaking techniques on the upright bass are the measuring stick to which others are held. Pieces of Jade offers a rare glimpse into LaFaro’s creative process through this eight-track collection of previously unreleased material, including five intriguing performances with his own trio (featuring pianist Don Friedman and drummer Pete LaRoca) culled from a recently released rehearsal tape shortly before his death, a 22-minute recording of LaFaro and Bill Evans working out a section of Evans’ heartbreaking rendition of “My Foolish Heart”, a 1966 interview with Evans remembering his friend and bandmate, and a touching solo piano number, “Memories for Scotty”, penned by Don Friedman that dates back to 1985. The CD accompanies Jade Visions: The Life and Music of Scott LaFaro, the very first biography written on LaFaro and authored by his sister, Helene LaFaro-Fernandez. Any fan of the jazz bass needs to invest in this indispensable dissertation on one of the craft’s true masters.