Larry Harlow, another salsa legend, is gone

Opera singer

Larry Harlow turned 82 on March 20. He was born in 1939 in Brooklyn, where music has always been his way of life and his upbringing as the son of a member of Latin orchestras and a Jewish opera singer. His name was Lawrence Ira Kahn.

He was known as “The Wonderful Jew”, known for his skills as a producer and pianist. It was in Cuba itself that he learned more about Sound and other Cuban rhythms, where he reinforced his musical knowledge for which he arrived in the mid-sixties.

He was part of the formidable Fania All Stars, which revolutionized the world of Latin music with the boost to Caribbean rhythms recorded under the name SALSA by Johnny Pacheco and Jerry Masucci. Precisely, the founders of the Fania Records label, including Harlow and his orchestra were the first to record there.

Throughout his musical career, he had three singers who made history with his orchestra: Ismael Miranda, Junior González and Néstor Sánchez. But his productions also included other personalities such as Celia Cruz, Cheo Feliciano, Rubén Blades, Pete ‘Conde’ Rodríguez, Justo Betancourth and Adalberto Santiago. Precisely, he is credited with being the one who took Celia Cruz to New York, who was in Mexico after leaving Cuba.

With Miranda, they hit the market hard with songs like Guasasa (1970), Arsenio (1971), Abran Paso and Abandonada Fue (1972). In 1973, with Junior González the song ‘La Cartera’, perhaps the best known of the orchestra of Larry Harlow.

Another musical event of this time was the album ‘Hommy – A Latin Opera’, in 1973, which took salsa to another level due to the quality of its production.

He has composed, directed and produced over 150 albums by himself and other artists. He studied philosophy and trained as a sound engineer at the Institute of Audio Research in New York.

On February 15, Johnny Pacheco, creator of Fania, passed away, and on July 28, Johnny Ventura, who revolutionized Dominican merengue, passed away.

Upon hearing the news of his death, several of his friends and colleagues mourned his departure. Panamanian Ruben Blades said on his Facebook account:

“I just moved ‘in the other neighborhood’ of my colleague and member of ‘Fania All Stars’, Lawrence” Larry “Harlow,” El Judío Maravilloso. “(The Wonderful Jew).

“An innovative and powerful pianist, a knowledgeable and serious student of the history and development of Afro-Cuban music. Harlow was one of the first artists signed to the Fania label and during his association with this label s ‘is recognized for his aggressive interpretation of’ salsa ‘and as a staunch defender of the’ clave ‘.

“Larry was one of the smartest and most intellectually prepared artists I met in New York City. Possessing a sour and straightforward sense of humor, it was a pleasure to chat with any subject.


“He is leaving ‘The Wonderful Jew’ but he leaves us his considerable contribution, something that will keep him alive in our souls and memories, forever.”

Bobby Valentin recalled that “Larry has always been a visionary of Latin music, especially Cuban rhythms and the montuno sound”, to the point that “he promoted Latin rhythms more than ourselves”.

Colombian pianist Álvaro Cabarcas said on his Twitter account: “Goodbye Larry Harlow, sadness in salsa. The wallet stayed here”.

Harlow has spent the past 32 days in the hospital. Shortly after his death, María del Carmen, the musician’s wife, wrote on Facebook: “My beloved Larry passed away at 12:30 am due to complications from kidney failure which weakened his already exhausted heart.”