Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Damon Smith

Damon's Take on Scott LaFaro
Date of Interview/Article:11/11/2002
> Adam Lane :
> But bass players went wild because of the seemingly impossibility of the technique that Lafaro had.

Damon's Response:

well, this just points out how far behind JAZZ bass playing was, and is the reason early jazz is only a passing interest for me. dominico dragonetti was playing/writing very complex playing upper register passages during beethoven's time, (as you know mr. lane), further refined by giovanni bottesini in the 1800's and then serge kouissvitsky (who mingus had an encounter with s.k. to to mingus after auditioning for the boston symphony: "you are the most virtuoso bass player i've heard, you are just not light enough" this was a big blow to mingus.) in the early 20th century. pre-mingus jazz players were technically innovative with the perrcusive techniques in the right hand but the left hand and jazz bass playing as whole did not really make an impact outside of jazz until mingus. mingus brought everything together by studing the three masters metioned before as well as taking inovative fingerings from segovia. so, rather than seeing lafaro as a true inovator, he can be looked as just an early post-mingus bass player.

another perspective is that all reports from people who were there to see lafaro said you could not hear him. which for me also puts his work in the realm of imagination instead of reality, with peacock actually reailzing lafaro's visions. personally i have lived by a quote from peacock: "set up the bass so it has a good sound, and what ever you can play on that is what you can play, the rest is your imagination".

one final note on another bass player thought to have small sound because he amplifys: i heard barry guy warming up acousticly, he is fucking loud! he is so intune and his technique is so incredible he just totally projects.

damon smith