Although he only lived to be 25, Scott LaFaro is one of the most advanced and influential jazz bassists the music had ever seen. His playing brought melodicism, exploration, voice and intuitive interplay to a whole new level and subsequently inspired generations of bassists since.
Although best known for his work with Bill Evans and Ornette Coleman, he also played with Hampton Hawes, Booker Little, Stan Getz & Cal Tjader, Elvin Jones, Stan Kenton, John Lewis, Chet Baker and Benny Goodman, among others. He was one of the two bassists (with Charlie Haden) on the classic 1960 Ornette session that was Free Jazz.
He was the most in-demand bassist during his short life. The trio of him, Evans and Paul Motian remains a highwater mark for the format. Ten days before LaFaro's death they played at the Village Vanguard, the concert was taped and two classic albums came from it (Sunday Night At The Village Vanguard and Waltz For Debby). But a car accident cut short his genius at 25, although his influence remains absolutely huge.
Here's the '61 classic, Waltz For Debby:
And another great one with the Hampton Hawes band, 1958:
And of course LaFaro was a contributor to the music of Ornette:
And as an added treat, here is some rare footage of LaFaro in action: