John LaPorta

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John Daniel LaPorta (13 April 1920 – 12 May 2004) was a jazz clarinetist and composer.

Biography[edit]

A native of Philadelphia, LaPorta started playing clarinet at the age of nine and studied at the Mastbaum School in Philadelphia, where one of his classmates was Buddy DeFranco. As a teenager he played in Philadelphia bands with Charlie Ventura and Bill Harris. He studied classically with Joseph Gigliotti of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Leon Russianoff at the Manhattan School of Music.

From 1942 to 1944 he was a member of the Bob Chester big band,[1] then spent the next two years with the Woody Herman Orchestra.[2] Beginning in 1947 he studied with Lennie Tristano. With Teo Macero and Charles Mingus he was a member of the Jazz Composers Workshop, trying to combine jazz with classical music.[1] In the classical world, he worked with Boston Pops, Leonard Bernstein, Leopold Stokowski, and Igor Stravinsky. In jazz he worked with Kenny Clarke, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Buddy Rich, and Lester Young.[2]

He taught at Parkway Music School, then at public schools on Long Island, followed by the Manhattan School of Music and the Berklee College of Music. With guitarist Jack Petersen, he pioneered the use of Greek modes for teaching chord-scales.

In the 1990s he and his wife retired to Sarasaota, Florda, where he performed at the Sarasota Jazz Club and as a guest with the Fred Williams Trio. He wrote his autobiography, Playing It by Ear. LaPorta died from complications of a stroke on May 12, 2004, in Sarasota.

Discography[edit]

  • The John LaPorta Quintet (Debut, 1954)
  • Three Moods (Debut, 1955)
  • Conceptions (Debut, 1956)
  • The Clarinet Artistry of John LaPorta (Debut, 1957)
  • Theme and Variations (Fantasy, 2002)

With Kenny Clarke

With Charles Mingus

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. "John LaPorta". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b "John D. LaPorta, 84, Clarinetist-Composer". The New York Times. 15 May 2004. Retrieved 20 October 2018.