Scott LaFaro

GENEVA –– Plans were unveiled Friday night to honor legendary jazz musician Scott LaFaro of Geneva with a life-sized statue downtown.

Jim Meaney, founder of the monthly first Friday Geneva Night Out arts and entertainment program, made the announcement prior to a free concert at the Smith Opera House.

“We are working with the city’s Public Art Committee and local artist and sculptor Ted Aub to design and create a life-sized statue of Scott,” Meaney said.

“Ted has offered to provide the labor for free, but there will be costs for materials. We will be conducting a fundraising effort and look for grants to cover these costs,” Meaney added.

Meaney told a crowd of several hundred that the effort to honor LaFaro began last year. City Council declared April 3 as Scott LaFaro Day in the city annually and renamed a downtown street Scott LaFaro Drive.

“We have been floored by the support and excitement generated by this from the start. This statue will be a continuation of that,” he said.

Details are still being worked out regarding the statue’s design, materials and location.

Scott LaFaro Day was incorporated into Friday evening’s Geneva Night Out program. A free concert at the Smith featured a performance by another jazz legend, the Gap Mangione Jazz Quintet from Rochester. Mangione was a contemporary of LaFaro’s.

Meaney said Mangione was one of those who spent time with LaFaro on the night of his tragic death in the summer of 1961. LaFaro and his friend Frank Ottley of Geneva were killed in a automobile crash in Flint. LaFaro was only 25.

Performing in advance of the Mangione quintet on Friday was local band The Cool Club, made up of Steve Venuti on piano, Rick Hoyt on guitar, Joe Galusha on drums, Tom McClure on sax and flute and Doug Henrie on bass.

Also singing with the Cool Club were the Lipker Sisters of Seneca Falls.

Born April 3, 1936, LaFaro and his family moved to Geneva when he was 3 years old. He began playing music while in elementary school. He graduated from Geneva High School and studied music at Ithaca College for a few semesters before leaving to pursue a musical career.

LaFaro quickly gained a reputation in jazz circles as a talented innovator on the bass. He played with jazz and big band greats like Chet Baker, Victor Feldman, Stan Kenton, Cal Tjader, Benny Goodman and Ornette Coleman. He also gained fame with the famous Bill Evans Trio.

A Scott LaFaro memorial scholarship has also been established at Geneva High School.

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