Larry Harlow (b. March 20, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York, as Lawrence Ira Kahn - August 20, 2021) was an American salsa music performer, composer and producer. Larry Harlow was born into a musical family of Jewish-American descent.
He is a son of the late Rose and Buddy Kahn. 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. The young 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. He is the director of the Latin Legends of Fania, among other groups.
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. Larry and his orchestra, Orquesta Harlow, was the second orchestra signed to the Fania Label, Harlow has also produced over 106 CD’s for various artists and over 50 CD’s on his own besides the ones he produced for 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," which is credited for getting Celia Cruz out of retirement, was the first Latin musical performance in Carnegie Hall. In other firsts, Larry was the first ever piano player for legendary salsa group "The Fania All-stars," generally regarded as the single most important Salsa group of all time and the first Recording Producer for legendary salsa group "The Fania All-stars," he also appeared with "The Fania All-stars," in the movies Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa), Live In Africa and Salsa.
Larry's further contributions to music was to insist on the creation of the Latin Grammy Award. Harlow’s 1977 salsa suite La Raza Latina, an ambitious “history of Latin music in musical genre” with Rubén Blades, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Partially in recognition of his early efforts to establish the Latin Grammy as well as for his career contributions to the genre, Larry was presented with the Trustee's Award by the Latin Recording Academy in November, 2008.
El Judio ContraAtaKa
In 1994, he teamed up with Ray Barretto, Adalberto Santiago and cuatro guitar virtuoso Yomo Toro to found the Latin Legend 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.
In 2005 he contributed to The Mars Volta's album, Frances the Mute, in which he played a piano solo towards the end of L'Via L'Viaquez. He also played live with The Mars Volta in some of their performances.
In 2008, Larry Harlow was presented with a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Larry Harlow currently resides with his wife in New York, and still regularly performs as "Larry Harlow and the Latin Legends of Fania".