Renowned saxophonist / clarinetist, composer and longtime jazz educator John LaPorta died from complications of a stroke on May 12, 2004 in Sarasota, Fla., at age 84. LaPorta, who was born in Philadelphia in 1920, suffered a stroke in January, but was released from the hospital to his Sarasota home in early April.
LaPorta, who is known for his music as well as his role as an avid jazz educator, began playing the clarinet when he was nine years old, first studying with Wilhelm Dietrich, the first chair clarinet with the Philadelphia Orchestra. LaPorta’s skills were refined when he studied with Joseph Gigliotti at the Settlement Music School, and further when he joined Leopold Stowkowski’s All American Youth Orchestra in 1936. During high school LaPorta became increasingly interested in jazz, admiring musicians like Lester Young, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington. In 1942, LaPorta was lucky enough to be part of several jam sessions with Dizzy Gillespie.