Larry Harlow (musician)

  (Redirected from Larry Harlow (salsa))

Larry Harlow (né Lawrence Ira Kahn; born 20 March 1939, Brooklyn) is an American salsa music performer, composer and producer. He was born into a musical American family of Jewish descent.[1][2]

Larry Harlow
Birth nameLawrence Ira Kahn
(aka Larry Harlow Kahn)
Born (1939-03-20) 20 March 1939 (age 82)
Brooklyn, New York
OriginNew York City
Occupation(s)pianist, producer
Years active1960s–present
LabelsFania Records
Associated actsFania All-Stars



Harlow is the son of Rose (née Rose Sherman; 1910–1975) and Buddy Kahn ( Nathan Kahn; 1909–1981), and brother of Andy Harlow ( Andre H. Kahn; born 1945). His mother was an opera singer with the stage name Rose Sherman in New York. His father was the bandleader at the Latin Quarter (nightclub) in New York under the name Buddy Harlowe. Harlow is affectionately nicknamed el Judio Maravilloso (The Marvelous Jew). Harlow is a noted salsa bandleader and multi-instrumentalist, although he primarily plays piano. He produced over 260 albums for Fania Records including his brother Andy's four albums on the Fania stable mate Vaya Records between 1972 and 1976: Sorpresa La Flauta, La Música Brava, El Campesino and Latin Fever. The first garnered a gold disc and spawned "La Lotería", the company's biggest selling 45 rpm release to date. Larry recommended that Andy adopt a trombanga sound for the album and eschew his main instrument, the sax, to play flute in the band's two ‘bones and flute frontline, after which his brother's career was significantly enhanced.

Music skillsEdit

Larry Harlow excelled at an early age at various instruments. The music and culture of New York's Latino community led him to Cuba where he began an intense study of Afro-Cuban music. Harlow, who is known for his innovative blend of Afro-Cuban and jazz styles of piano playing, studied music in the 1950s in Cuba but was unable to complete his degree before the Cuban Revolution forced him to leave the island in 1959. Larry and his orchestra, Orquesta Harlow, was the second orchestra signed to the Fania label. Harlow also produced over 106 albums for various artists and over 50 albums on his own besides the ones he produced for Fania. Larry Harlow continues to perform with Fania Among his most popular albums were Abran Paso and Tributo a Arsenio Rodriguez with Ismael Miranda as the lead singer. Larry's opera Hommy (inspired by the Who's Tommy) was credited as integral to Celia Cruz's comeback (from an early retirement). In other firsts, Harlow was the first piano player for the legendary salsa group known as the Fania All-Stars, generally regarded as the seminal and most-important Salsa group to date, and Fania's first record producer. He also appeared with the Fania All-Stars in the movies Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa), Live in Africa, and Salsa. One of the highlights of the film Our Latin Thing is the Orquesta Harlow 1971 performance of Abran Paso in front of an exuberant and dancing audience in East Harlem with a baby faced Ismael Miranda on vocals.[3]


Among Harlow's further contributions to music was his insistence on creation of a Latin Grammy Award (before the category merged in 2010 with less-specific Jazz ones. A year after the Trustees who oversee the Grammy Awards cut 31 categories in May, 2011, they drew fierce protests from Latin jazz musician Bobby Sanabria, Carlos Santana, Paul Simon and Herbie Hancock among others, and the Grammys Trustees Board voted to reinstate the award for Best Latin Jazz Album in June, 2012.) Larry Harlow's 1977 salsa suite La Raza Latina, an ambitious history of the Latin music musical genre created with singer/songwriter Rubén Blades, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Partially in recognition of his early efforts to establish the Latin Grammy categories (which for some years were awarded in a separate ceremony) as well as for his impressive career contributions to the tropical dance music genre (and Harlow's jazzified pianistic approach to it), in November 2008 Larry Harlow was presented with the Trustee's Award by the Latin Recording Academy.

The Latin Legends Band a.k.a. Latin Legends of FANIAEdit

In 1994, he teamed up with Ray Barreto, Adalberto Santiago, and cuatro guitar virtuoso Yomo Toro to found the Latin Legends Band, with the aim of both educating Latino and American youth about Latin music heritage and pioneering new ideas in the music, resulting in Larry Harlow's Latin Legends of Fania Band 2006. This was an Idea from Ray Barretto and Larry Harlow and the Latin Legends band continues to work around the world.

In 2005 he contributed to The Mars Volta's album Frances the Mute, on which he played a piano solo toward the end of "L'Via L'Viaquez." He also played piano with the group in some live shows.


In 2008, Larry Harlow was presented with a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Larry Harlow holds a BA in Music from Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and a master's degree in Philosophy from the New School of Social Research also in New York City.


Harlow currently resides in New York with his wife, and regularly continues to lead and perform with Larry Harlow and the Fania Latin Legends.


  • Heavy Smokin' (Fania, 1965)
  • Bajándote: Gettin' Off (Fania, 1966)
  • El Exigente (Fania, 1967)
  • Me and My Monkey (Fania, 1969)
  • Ambergris! (Gatefold, 1970)
  • Electric Harlow (Fania, 1970)
  • Abran Paso! (Fania, 1971)
  • Orchestra Harlow Presenta an Ismael Miranda (Fania, 1971)
  • Tribute To Arsenio Rodríguez (Fania, 1971)
  • Opportunidad (Fania, 1972)
  • Harlow's Harem (Fania, 1972)
  • Hommy: A Latin Opera (Fania, 1973)
  • Salsa (Fania, 1974)
  • Live in Quad (Fania, 1974)
  • El Judío Maravilloso (Fania, 1975)
  • Con Mi Viejo Amigo (Fania, 1976)
  • El Jardinero del Amor (Fania, 1976)
  • La Raza Latina: A Salsa Suite (Fania, 1977)
  • El Albino Divino (Fania, 1978)
  • Latin Fever (Fania, 1978)
  • Rumbambola (Fania, 1978)
  • La Responsabilidad (with Fausto Rey) (Fania, 1979)
  • El Dulce Aroma del Éxito (Fania, 1980)
  • Our Latin Feeling (Nuestro Sentimiento) (Fania, 1980)
  • Así Soy Yo (Coco, 1981)
  • Yo Soy Latino (Fania, 1983)
  • Señor Salsa (Tropical Budda, 1984)
  • My Time Is Now/Mi Tiempo Llego (Cache Records 1990)
  • The Latin Legends Band (Sony International, March 31, 1998)
  • Romance En Salsa (Caimán, 1999)
  • ¡Sofrito! (Rainart, 2000)
  • Live at Birdland (Latin Cool, 2003)
  • Passing The Torch vol.1 (With Marlow Rosado)(Big Label Records 2016)



  1. ^ Resto Max La salsificación de Israel Archived 2007-11-02 at the Wayback Machine, El Nuevo Día, October 31, 2007
  2. ^ Larry Rohter, "From Jewish Roots in Brooklyn, a Sizzling Salsa Star", New York Times, August 13, 2010.
  3. ^ [!Musica!, Sue Steward, ISBN 0-8118-2566-3]

External linksEdit