Geneva, NY – March 23, 2015 – On Friday, April 3rd, a free concert at the Smith Opera House featuring the Gap Mangione Jazz Quintet will take place in honor of Geneva native and jazz legend Scott LaFaro. Sponsored by the city’s monthly art crawl Geneva Night Out, the tribute will begin at 6:00pm, and will include musical performances and a special announcement regarding future annual Scott LaFaro Day events.
“We’re excited and honored to have Gap and his jazz quintet on the Smith Opera House stage paying tribute to Scott,” said Jim Meaney, coordinator of Geneva Night Out. “Not only is Gap an icon in jazz circles, he was also a contemporary of Scott. Gap was one of the people who spent time with Scott on the evening of his tragic accident. When we asked Gap to help us celebrate Scott’s life and music, he didn’t hesitate.”
In 2014, the City of Geneva declared April 3rd to be “Scott LaFaro Day” in perpetuity. On the next evening, during the city’s monthly art and culture celebration “Geneva Night Out,” a downtown street was renamed Scott LaFaro Drive. Since then, organizers and LaFaro fans from around the region have been planning ways to celebrate Geneva’s own jazz legend on an annual basis. “For our second annual Scott LaFaro Day event, the Smith Opera House was kind enough to offer the use of the historic theater for our tribute concert,” Meaney continued. “The concert will feature speakers and other local jazz performers, with the Gap Mangione Jazz Quintet finishing up the evening’s festivities. We’ve got some exciting news to share about the future of Scott LaFaro Day in Geneva, which we will announce during the concert at the Smith.”
More information, including a walking map detailing all artists and activities participating across downtown Geneva during Geneva Night Out between 5pm and 8pm, is available at http://www.genevanightout.org.
Born on April 3, 1936, Scott LaFaro began playing music while an elementary school student in Geneva, eventually moving to the bass. After a few semesters at Ithaca College, LaFaro left to pursue his musical career. LaFaro was quickly recognized as one of the best young bassists in the country, playing with such jazz and big band greats as Chet Baker, Victor Feldman, Stan Kenton, Cal Tjader, Benny Goodman, and Ornette Coleman. It was as part of the famous Bill Evans Trio that LaFaro developed and expanded the counter-melodic style that would come to characterize his playing.Days after recording two seminal records with the Bill Evans Trio, LaFaro died in an automobile accident in the summer of 1961 in Flint, NY, between Geneva and Canandaigua. Though only playing for a few years, LaFaro’s innovative style influenced a generation of bassists and he is considered one of the greatest jazz musicians of the 20th century.
Gaspare “Gap” Mangione is a jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader from Rochester, NY. In 1958, Gap started performing together with his brother, Grammy-winning flugelhornist Chuck, as the Jazz Brothers, eventually recording three albums for Riverside Records. In 1968, he released his first solo album, Diana in the Autumn Wind. Five solo albums followed, along with tours (many as featured pianist in his brother’s orchestral performances) throughout the 1960s and 70s. By the 1980s, Gap spent more time playing in and around Rochester and less time on the road. In 1990, he formed the Gap Mangione Big Band, which remains the premiere dance and concert big band in the Rochester area. The Big Band has released four CDs since 1998. Today, Mangione continues to make regular appearances playing solo, with the 14-piece Big Band, or with a subset of the band.