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RIP John LaChapelle

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Larry F, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    Iowa City, IA
    John LaChapelle died earlier this week at 91. He played guitar at countless gigs in the Tri-City area of Washington state. He was the teacher of Larry Coryell, and other guitarists who went on to have long careers in music, including me.

    He was one of probably a great many musicians who opted to stay in a small town and raise a family, as opposed to moving to LA, New York, etc. and gigging in town, as well as on the road.

    An acquaintance of mine once attended a jam session that included clarinetist Buddy DeFranco and LaChapelle. At one point, DeFrance turned to John and said, "Man, you can play."

    As a teacher, he was something else. Instead of spelling it all out for students, he got to know what the student was curious about. He also had ways of creating curiosity. I wanted to learn jazz chords, which sounded very good to me. He once wrote out the chords to All of Me. He didn't specify which voicings to use. On my own, I started to unlock the mysteries of voice-leading. This served me well for decades. A month later, he wrote out All of Me again, with no comments. I was hit hard by what I saw. Not only was it in different key, but the chords were different. Where a bar in the first version was one seventh chord, in the new version there two chords, maybe a minor seventh for two beats and a 9th chord for two beats.

    Larry Coryell mentioned him in interviews over the years, and wrote about him extensively in his autobiography, Improvising: My Life in Music. He returned to Richland a few years ago, and brought LaChapelle up for a few tunes. A friend of mine said LaChapelle played brilliantly, and induced a few whoa moments in Coryell.

    I always stopped by to see him whenever I traveled home, and I am really glad that he had a very successful and happy life. I will talk to his son about possibly putting up some recordings on YouTube, so that his music is out there for all to hear for all eternity (a topic unto itself).

    Here's a link:

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