John D. LaPorta, a classically trained clarinetist who performed with the stars of early modern jazz before beginning a long teaching and composing career, died in Sarasota, Fla., on May 19. He was 84.
He played and recorded with many prominent jazz musicians, including Kenny Clarke, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich and Miles Davis. From 1944 to 1946 he was a performer and composer for the Woody Herman Orchestra. He also performed with Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, Leopold Stokowski and the Boston Pops.
LaPorta composed jazz and classical works in many genres, including film soundtracks, and published some 200 compositions.
Born in Philadelphia, he taught at the Berklee College of Music in Boston for more than 35 years and was a founding member of the National Assn. of Jazz Educators, now the Intl. Association of Jazz Educators. In 2001 he published an autobiography, “Playing It by Ear.”
He is survived by wife Virginia, three daughters, a son, five grandchildren, a brother and a sister.